Lower quit rates among African American and Latino menthol cigarette smokers at a tobacco treatment clinic


  • Disclosures This work is primarily supported by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (PI = JF), as part of New Jersey's Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. The authors were also supported by The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (JF, MS and JW), The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (JF, MS),The National Institute on Drug Abuse (KG, JW and JF), The American Legacy Foundation (JW) and The National Institute of Mental Health (KG, JW). A full funding statement for the authors (JF, MS, and JW) is provided at the end of the paper.

Kunal K. Gandhi,
Division of Addiction Psychiatry, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 317 George St, Suite 105, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA
Tel.: + 1 732 235 9711
Fax: + 1 732 235 9711
Email: kunal.gandhi@umdnj.edu


Background:  Lower rates of smoking cessation and higher rates of lung cancer in African American (AA) smokers may be linked to their preference for mentholated cigarettes.

Aim:  This study assessed the relationship between menthol smoking, race/ethnicity and smoking cessation among a diverse cohort of 1688 patients attending a specialist smoking cessation service.

Results:  46% of the patients smoked mentholated cigarettes, but significantly more AA (81%) and Latino (66%) patients than Whites (32%) smoked menthols. AA and Latino menthol smokers smoked significantly fewer cigarettes per day (CPD) than non-menthol smokers (15.7 vs. 20.3, for AA, and 17.0 vs. 22.1, for Latinos), with no differences among White menthol and non-menthol smokers. At 4-week follow up, AA, Latino and White non-menthol smokers had similar quit rates (54%, 50% and 50% respectively). In contrast, among menthol smokers, AAs and Latinos had lower quit rates (30% and 23% respectively) compared with Whites (43%, p < 0.001). AA and Latino menthol smokers had significantly lower odds of quitting [odds ratio (OR) = 0.34; 95% CI = 0.17, 0.69 for AA, and OR = 0.32; 95% CI = 0.16, 0.62 for Latinos] than their non-menthol counterparts. At 6-month follow up, a similar trend was observed for the race/ethnicity subgroups, with AA menthol smokers having half the odds of being abstinent compared with AA non-menthol smokers (OR = 0.48; 95% CI = 0.25, 0.9).

Conclusions:  Despite smoking fewer CPD, AA and Latino menthol smokers experience reduced success in quitting as compared with non-menthol smokers within the same ethnic/racial groups.