Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology

The effect of menthol on cigarette smoking behaviors, biomarkers and subjective responses.

PMID 23334588


As part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration charged the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee with developing a report and recommendations about the effect of menthol in cigarettes on the public health. The purpose of this study was to examine smoking behaviors, biomarkers of exposure, and subjective responses when switching from a novel menthol cigarette to a non-menthol cigarette to isolate the effect of menthol and to approximate the effect a menthol ban might have on smokers. Thirty-two adult smokers completed this 35-day randomized, open-label, laboratory study. After a 5-day baseline period, participants were randomized to the experimental group (n = 22) where they would smoke menthol Camel crush for 15 days followed by 15 days of non-menthol Camel crush, or the control group (n = 10) where they smoked their own brand cigarette across all periods. Participants attended study visits every 5 days and completed measures of smoking rate, smoking topography, biomarkers of exposure, and subjective responses. Although total puff volume tended to increase when the experimental group switched from menthol to non-menthol (P = 0.06), there were no corresponding increases in cigarette consumption or biomarkers of exposure (P > 0.1). Subjective ratings related to taste and smell decreased during the non-menthol period (P < 0.01), compared with the menthol. Results suggest menthol has minimal impact on smoking behaviors, biomarkers of exposure, and subjective ratings. When controlling for all other cigarette design features, menthol in cigarettes had minimal effect on outcome measures.