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Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jun;16(6):876-80. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu003. Epub 2014 Feb 10.

Young adults' behavioral intentions surrounding a potential menthol cigarette ban.

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Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research, Rutgers School of Public Health, New Brunswick, NJ.



Menthol cigarette smoking is more prevalent among young adults, who are a known target of tobacco industry marketing. This study explores young adults' menthol use and behavioral intentions in the event of a ban on menthol cigarettes.


Data from 2,871 respondents of the 2011 National Young Adult Health Survey were examined to estimate young adults' current smoking, current menthol smoking, and behavioral intentions in the event of a menthol cigarette ban.


Of all respondents, 23.8% were current smokers, and 40.3% of the current smokers were menthol smokers. Menthol use was significantly higher among 18- to 24-year-olds versus 25- to 34-year-olds (51% vs. 34.3%, p = .02) and was significantly associated with race/ethnicity (p < .0001), with prevalence highest among Black smokers (82.0%). Among menthol smokers, 65.7% indicated they would quit tobacco use altogether if menthol cigarettes were no longer sold, while 18.4% said they would switch to nonmenthol cigarettes, and 16.0% said they would switch to some other tobacco product (OTP). Behavioral intention was significantly associated with race/ethnicity (p = .02), where intention to quit tobacco was most prevalent among Black menthol smokers (79.3%), and concurrent use of OTPs (p = .03), where intention to switch to an OTP was more prevalent among menthol smokers who indicated concurrent OTP use (35.3% vs. 5.5%).


A majority of young adult menthol smokers stated they would quit smoking if menthol cigarettes were no longer sold, which builds on research finding public support for such a policy and on work modeling the public health impact such a ban could have.

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