Young smokers often start with mentholated cigarettes and move to nonmentholated. Banning this “starter” tobacco product may keep some youth from starting to smoke or disrupt the progression of their habit according to a National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey (NYSCS) follow-up.
In 2009, candy, clove, and fruit flavorings were banned from cigarettes, leaving menthol the only “characterizing” flavor. Research shows that the youngest smokers (aged 12–17 years), including recent initiates, are most likely to smoke mentholated cigarettes than high school smokers and those who have been smoking longer than one year. No research has directly examined whether the same young smokers shift disproportionately from mentholated to nonmentholated over time. In this study, researchers compare data from the 2003 National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey (NYSCS) and a follow-up survey 24-months later of 1,045 original participants, ages 16-24.
Noting that tobacco industry documents reveal that the level of menthol flavoring is set to attract young smokers, the authors believe this study is evidence that banning mentholated cigarettes could prevent some kids from starting to smoke, and keep others from progressing from experimenter to regular smoker.