The research carried out by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that the usage of menthol cigs is more wide spread among those smokers who started to light up recently (45 percent) than among those who have been smoking for more than 5 years (32 percent).
Moreover, the researchers found out that the rate of menthol cigarettes lovers rose from 31 percent, registered 5 years ago to 34 percent of current smokers. This growth was the most dramatic among teenage smokers aged between 15 and 18 (from 43 percent in 2004 to 47 in 2008) and the rate of younger adults who prefer menthol cigarettes also increased from 34 percent four years ago to 41 percent.
Menthol is a flavoring agent of natural origin added to the cigarette content which is used to cover the real strength of cigarettes and providing smokers with a nice “freezing” aftertaste in the mouth. By offsetting the harshness with menthol flavor, the tobacco industry gives teenagers and young adults a gateway for getting hooked on smoking.
According to other studies by various research teams, menthol cigarettes are even more addictive than unflavored cigarettes, and therefore, it is much more difficult to give up smoking for those who prefer them in comparison with those who smoke ordinary cigarettes.
However, Menthol is the only flavoring not covered by the Tobacco Control Act, signed into federal law in June by President Barack Obama, although public health groups call the FDA to include flavored cigarettes in the ban.
SAMHSA lead researcher Christopher Louden, Professor of Public Health said that menthol-flavored cigarettes are able to keep smokers loyal to their deadly habit, and the leading cause of preventable deaths tormenting Americans. He added that evident fascination menthol cigarettes represent to adolescents and younger adults who recently tried smoking is especially concerning because these cigarettes can allure more young people to start smoking.
According to the study, the rate of smokers who prefer menthol cigarettes is the highest among African Americans (82.5 percent) what is significantly higher than among Hispanic smokers (33 percent) and White Americans (24 percent). The study showed an interesting tendency – among long-term African American smokers the overwhelming majority prefers menthol cigarettes, whereas new-comers are more likely to take up ordinary cigarettes, which is opposite to the tendency found among other ethnical groups.
Among other findings of the study is the apparent increase in the rate of male smokers of menthol cigarettes, which rose from 27 percent in 2004 to 31 percent in 2009.