A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPS) has found a link between lower menthol levels in cigarettes and an increase in younger smokers choosing menthol cigarettes. A mild menthol flavor decreases the feeling of irritation when you try your first cigarette, making it more likely for you to try a second and third. The HSPH studied a combination of internal tobacco company documents, independent lab tests measuring menthol levels and a survey among smokers aged 12 to 17, and found an increasing trend of menthol use in new teenage smokers. Two companies specifically, Marlboro and Newport introduced mild menthol formulas in 2006 to appeal to a younger smoker while, experienced, long term smokers who prefer menthol like a cigarette with a more intense menthol flavor.
This specific type of marketing breaks the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998; a measure introduced by the U.S. government preventing them from developing products specifically aimed at youth. Currently there is a bill before Congress (HR 1108, S 625) that would allow the FDA to regulate additives in cigarettes. There has been no FDA control over cigarette ingredients to date.
The peppermint plant featured on the left is one type of mint used in menthol cigarettes to give them a cool feeling on the tongue, and thus minimizing the irritating feeling that a first time smoker experiences.
View the full article at Eureka Alert.org.