“They make you more addicted”: The proposal to ban menthol cigarettes could further reduce smoking rates

RALEIGH, NC – The FDA’s proposal to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars is being welcomed by advocates and doctors who believe the move could help continue the trend of declining smoking rates.

“The American Lung Association applauds the Biden Administration and the Food and Drug Administration for their proposal,” said Erika Sward, associate vice president of the National Advocacy – American Lung Association.

According to the CDC, 12.5% ​​of American adults were smokers in 2020, down from 20.9% in 2005.

Menthol cigarettes account for more than 1/3 of all cigarette sales in the US.

“When I ask patients about their tobacco use, I always ask what types of cigarettes they use. And if they smoke menthol cigarettes, switch to non-menthol cigarettes while we work on smoking cessation,” said Stacy Thiedeman, a tobacco cessation specialist with the Quit With WakeMed program.

Thiedeman works with Jameka Wells, who has found this strategy useful in her efforts to quit smoking.

“It’s probably a lot easier to quit smoking a non-menthol cigarette,” said Wells, who emphasized the value of WakeMed’s focus on telemedicine.

There is a large demographic split among those who smoke menthol cigarettes, with 85% of black smokers using them compared to just 30% of white smokers.

“For me, it actually goes a little bit deeper into how the cigarette companies market their products to different people. The access level. I know if I go to a predominantly African-American area, I’m going to get more access, faster access, cheaper access,” Wells said.

Another group that is particularly vulnerable to menthol cigarettes: younger people.

“What we hope is that this ban will primarily reduce the initiation of tobacco use and smoking initiation. We know teenagers and children who start with menthol cigarettes because they taste very mild, they are not that irritating. And they make you more addicted,” said Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt, associate professor of anesthesiology at Duke University School of Medicine.

“Essentially, menthol cigarettes trick new users into thinking they are not as pungent as a traditional cigarette because they allow for throat cooling,” Sward added. “The chemical properties of the additives associated with menthol that also make it harder to quit smoking. So what we’re really seeing is a double whammy when it comes to menthol.”

dr Jordt pointed to the success of menthol bans in other countries.

“We’ve seen a significant drop in smoking rates in Canada and the European Union, where menthol cigarettes have been banned. In fact, switching to regular cigarettes is less than expected, and many smokers have simply quit,” said Dr. jord

A report found that in Canada, which introduced its ban in 2017, 24% of menthol smokers had quit within a year.

“Often I didn’t even inhale the smoke when I started smoking. Then it became a habit. And then I got hooked,” adds Jennifer Gattis, a former smoker from Mebane.

Gattis said she’s been smoke-free for 86 days and is celebrating her accomplishment.

“To some people, this might not seem long or worthy of celebration, but having smoked for like 11, 12 years and quit cold turkey, I’m very happy about that,” said Gattis, who noted she knows many other menthol smokers.

She was persuaded to stop after speaking to her doctor, who highlighted her family history of COPD.

“Ask yourself this one question – and that is, do you want to live? If the answer is yes, you can contact your doctor and see if they offer smoking classes and talk to your doctor. Go to your doctor and let them know you need help,” said Gattis, who also stressed the value of a support group.

North Carolina is the nation’s top producer of flue-cured products, accounting for 78.7% of the state total in 2019, according to the state Department of Agriculture. However, production volume fell year-on-year from 378 million pounds in 2015 to 234 million pounds in 2019.

Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All rights reserved. “They make you more addicted”: The proposal to ban menthol cigarettes could further reduce smoking rates

Dais Johnston

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