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Menthol Cigarettes More Addictive to U.S. Minorities

Finding may explain higher disease and death rates, researcher says

THURSDAY, Dec. 10, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Menthol cigarettes appear to be more addictive for black and Hispanic smokers than regular cigarettes, a U.S. study has found.

Researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) analyzed data on 7,815 current and former smokers who'd reported at least one attempt to quit. The information came from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey.

Among adults who smoked menthol cigarettes, just 44 percent of blacks and 48 percent of Hispanics were able to kick the habit. But blacks and Hispanics who smoked regular cigarettes had higher quit rates -- 62 percent and 61 percent, respectively. Those rates were similar to quit rates for white adults.

The data also showed that non-whites tended to smoke fewer cigarettes a day and were about three times more likely than whites to smoke menthol cigarettes, the study authors noted.

"Historically, tobacco companies have targeted minority populations when marketing menthol cigarettes," study co-author Cristine Delnevo, director of the Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research at UMDNJ, said in a university news release.

"Although whites and non-whites have similar smoking prevalence rates, the fact that non-whites are more likely to smoke menthols, and those who smoke menthols are less likely to quit, could explain why minority populations continue to suffer disproportionately from tobacco-caused disease and death," she said.

Study author Daniel Gundersen said in the news release that "with the substantial number of smokers smoking menthol cigarettes, particularly among minorities, this is serious cause for concern."

The findings are published in the December issue of Preventive Medicine.

More information

For information on quitting smoking, go to smokefree.gov.

SOURCE: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, news release, Dec. 3, 2009
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