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Keywords:

  • Mentholated cigarettes;
  • nicotine dependence;
  • young adult smokers;
  • tobacco control policies

ABSTRACT

Aim  To examine relationships between the preference for menthol cigarettes and young adult smoking behaviors, including the extent to which state tobacco control policies moderate these relationships.

Design  Cross-sectional design using secondary data from the 2006–07 Tobacco Use Supplements to the Current Population Surveys (TUS CPS) surveys appended with 2006 state-policy data.

Setting  United States nationally representative survey.

Participants  A total of 2241 young adult daily smokers and 688 young adult non-daily smokers.

Measurements  The two dependent variables of smoking behaviors were smoking first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking (TTF) and number of cigarettes smoked per day (cpd). Primary independent variables included menthol brand preference and state tobacco control policies (youth access laws, clean indoor air laws and cigarette excise taxes), adjusting for controls.

Findings  Among daily smokers, there were no significant associations between menthol brand preference and TTF or cpd. However, lower educational attainment, not being in the labor force and the lack of home smoking rules were associated positively with shorter TTF, being white and the lack of home smoking rules were associated positively with cpd. Among daily smokers, state excise taxes were associated negatively with higher cpd. Among non-daily smokers, menthol brand preference was associated positively with shorter TTF, but associations did not vary with state tobacco control policies. Menthol brand preference was not associated significantly with cpd, but male gender, unmarried status and the lack of home smoking rules were associated positively with greater cpd among non-daily smokers.

Conclusions  Young adult non-daily smokers who preferred menthol cigarettes were significantly more dependent than those who preferred non-menthol cigarettes, as shown through the shorter TTF. Associations between menthol brand preference and smoking behaviors did not vary with state tobacco control policies.