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Cessation Outcomes Among Treatment-Seeking Menthol and Nonmenthol Smokers

      Background

      Menthol cigarettes account for 25% of the market in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration currently is considering regulatory action on tobacco products, including a ban on menthol cigarettes. With 39% of menthol smokers reporting that they would quit smoking if menthol cigarettes were banned, there is a need to better understand whether existing cessation programs, such as quitlines, are serving menthol smokers.

      Purpose

      This study compared baseline characteristics and cessation outcomes of menthol and nonmenthol smokers who were seeking treatment through a quitline.

      Methods

      Data were collected between September 2009 and July 2011 on 6257 participants. A random sample of eligible participants who registered for services between March 2010 and February 2011 was contacted for a follow-up survey 7 months post-registration (n=1147). Data were analyzed in 2011.

      Results

      Among participants, 18.7% of smokers reported using menthol cigarettes. Menthol smokers were more likely to be female, younger, African-American, and have less than a high school education. Menthol smokers who called the quitline were slightly less likely to enroll in services than nonmenthol smokers (92.2% vs 94.8%, p<0.001). However, for those that did enroll, there were no significant differences in self-reported intent-to-treat 30-day point prevalence abstinence rates between menthol and nonmenthol smokers (17.3% vs 13.8%, p=0.191).

      Conclusions

      Quitlines appear to be adequately serving menthol smokers who call for help. Cessation outcomes for menthol smokers are comparable to nonmenthol smokers. However, if a menthol ban motivates many menthol smokers to quit, quitlines may have to increase their capacity to meet the increase in demand.
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