Menthol preference moderates the relationship between cigarette nicotine content choice and reactions in young adults who smoke infrequently.
BACKGROUND: Half of young adults who smoke use menthol cigarettes, which is associated with continued smoking and greater nicotine dependence. Additionally, early subjective reactions to cigarettes predict future use. Menthol may blunt the sensory effects of nicotine. We investigated the moderating role of menthol on subjective reactions to, and choice of varied nicotine content cigarettes in young adults who smoke infrequently. METHODS: In three counterbalanced, double-blinded sessions, young adults who smoke ≤ 15 days/month smoked fixed doses from very low (VLNC), intermediate (INC), and normal (NNC) nicotine content cigarettes, which were menthol or non-menthol depending on preference. Participants chose their preferred cigarette in a final session. Positive and negative subjective reactions were measured in each session. ANOVA tests investigated the relationship between menthol preference, nicotine content, and subjective reactions. RESULTS: Participants (N = 87) were 18-25 years old and reported smoking 15.2 cigarettes per month over 8 days (35 % menthol). Non-menthol preferring participants had increased negative reactions with greater nicotine content (F(1, 55)= 10.76, p < .001); menthol preferring participants did not. Choice of higher nicotine cigarettes was associated with having reported a greater difference in positive reactions to NNC and VLNC for non-menthol preferring participants (F(1, 55)= 12.72, p < .001) but not for menthol preferring participants. CONCLUSIONS: Young adults who smoke infrequently are a priority tobacco control population given their high risk of transitioning to daily smoking. Results from this study in the form of subjective reactions indicate that a menthol ban is required for a nicotine reduction standard to be maximally effective in this vulnerable group.
Rubenstein, D; Sweitzer, MM; Scroggs, LB; Denlinger-Apte, RL; Kozink, R; McClernon, FJ
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