Menthol Cigarettes: 4 Common Questions Answered

Menthol cigarettes and regular cigarettes have a similar design, but menthol cigarettes use menthol additives either within the tobacco or, in certain brands, within or near the cigarette filter to release a burst of menthol flavor while smoking the cigarette. Regular cigarettes not labeled as containing menthol may also contain small but detectable quantities of menthol due to an intentional addition by the manufacturer, contamination in the manufacturing of menthol cigarettes in the same facility, or trace levels of menthol that occur naturally in the tobacco product itself.

Is it harder to quit smoking menthol cigarettes versus regular cigarettes?

Some studies suggest menthol cigarettes may be more addictive, making them harder to quit than non-mentholated cigarettes, especially among African-American smokers—although the evidence for this is not conclusive.

Menthol cigarettes and regular cigarettes have a similar design, but menthol cigarettes use menthol additives.

Quitting smoking is the best way to avoid smoking related health conditions. Call the Quitline (1800-Quit-NOW), visit Smokefree.gov, or talk to your doctor for assistance to quit smoking.

Are menthol cigarettes worse than regular cigarettes?

Smoking menthol cigarettes is at least as harmful as smoking non-menthol cigarettes. Menthol in cigarettes helps masks the harshness of smoking, makes smoking more pleasurable, and therefore makes it easier to inhale cigarette smoke more deeply.

Some research suggests that menthol in cigarettes makes smoking more attractive to youth, increases smoking uptake among youth, and may be more addictive and harder for smokers to quit smoking successfully than non-mentholated cigarettes.

Cigarette manufacturers often advertise menthol cigarettes as cool, refreshing, and better-tasting than regular cigarettes. These messages targeting African-American communities have been associated with their popularity among African-American smokers, contributing to disparities in cigarette smoking and health disparities in this population.

Do menthol cigarettes increase cancer risk?

Smoking all forms of cigarettes—menthol or non-menthol—is associated with increased risks of cancers, heart and lung diseases. Menthol cigarettes are as risky as regular cigarettes and are therefore associated with increased risks of cancer. 

What else should people know about menthol cigarettes and their effects?

Menthol in cigarettes does not make smoking safer than regular non-mentholated cigarettes.

Smoking menthol cigarettes cause harm to one’s health, including increasing risks of cancers, heart and lung diseases.

Quitting smoking is the best way to avoid smoking related health conditions. Call the Quitline (1800-Quit-NOW), visit Smokefree.gov, or talk to your doctor for assistance to quit smoking.

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