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Keywords:

  • Asthma and menthol smoking;
  • BMI and menthol smoking;
  • health risk for menthol smokers;
  • menthol;
  • NHIS;
  • former smokers;
  • current smokers

ABSTRACT

Aims  Although the adverse effects of smoking are well known, limited information exists about the overall health profiles of menthol smokers when compared to their non-menthol smoking counterparts. Using a well-known nationally representative survey, this study examines differences between self-reported health characteristics for menthol and non-menthol smokers.

Design  Cross-sectional data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey and its cancer control supplement were used to analyze responses for current and former smokers (n = 12 004) independently. All analyses were conducted using SAS version 9.2 and SAS callable SUDAAN version 9.0.3. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to model menthol smoking.

Findings  After controlling for sex, age and race, we found that in current smokers the mean number of cigarettes smoked per day is significantly lower for menthol smokers when compared to non-menthol smokers [odds ratio (OR): 0.99; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.98, 1.00]. Also, we found that former menthol smokers had higher body mass indices (BMIs) (OR: 1.01; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.02) and were more likely to have visited the emergency room due to asthma (OR: 2.30, 95% CI: 1.04, 5.09).

Conclusions  Overall, current menthol and non-menthol smokers have similar health profiles. However, menthol smokers reported smoking fewer cigarettes per day than their non-menthol counterparts. While these findings are supportive of other published data, future studies may need to tease out the health-related significance of smoking fewer menthol cigarettes per day but having similar health outcomes to those who smoke more non-menthol cigarettes per day. Additionally, our findings suggest that there may be some differences between the former menthol and non-menthol smoker.