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Tob Control. 2011 May;20 Suppl 2:ii29-36. doi: 10.1136/tc.2010.041970.

Menthol's potential effects on nicotine dependence: a tobacco industry perspective.

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  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Box 0612, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0612, USA.



To examine what the tobacco industry knows about the potential effects menthol may have on nicotine dependence.


A snowball strategy was used to systematically search the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library ( between 22 February and 29 April, 2010. Of the approximately 11 million documents available in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, the iterative searches returned tens of thousands of results. We qualitatively analysed a final collection of 309 documents relevant the effects of menthol on nicotine dependence.


The tobacco industry knows that menthol overrides the harsh taste of tobacco and alleviates nicotine's irritating effects, synergistically interacts with nicotine, stimulates the trigeminal nerve to elicit a 'liking' response for a tobacco product, and makes low tar, low nicotine tobacco products more acceptable to smokers than non-mentholated low delivery products.


Menthol is not only used in cigarettes as a flavour additive; tobacco companies know that menthol also has sensory effects and interacts with nicotine to produce tobacco products that are easier to smoke, thereby making it easier to expose smokers, especially those who are new and uninitiated, to the addictive power of nicotine.

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