The Reality Of Menthol and Tobacco Industry

Updated on May 21, 2023

There are fights against menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. These products are extremely popular among young smokers and Black, Hispanic, and LGBTQ Americans, who experience disproportionately high rates of smoking-related diseases and are more likely to struggle with quitting. The tobacco industry has misled people about menthol. This campaign will highlight the truth about menthol and tobacco, including hard-hitting facts on how menthol marketing negatively impacts communities of color.

Menthol is Not a Replacement For Cigarettes

Many menthol cigarette manufacturers and some public health groups oppose bans on flavored tobacco products by arguing that removing menthol from cigarettes will result in severe economic losses for communities. However, the truth is that a ban on menthol will not result in devastating profit losses for convenience stores and other local businesses that currently sell mentholated cigarettes. Moreover, a ban on menthol cigarettes will not force smokers to switch to “plain” or other brands that aren’t as satisfying or addictive as the mentholated variety. A significant proportion of those who smoke mentholated cigarettes is motivated by the perceived social acceptance of these cigarettes and the ability of menthol’s cooling and anesthetic properties to mask some of the immediate negative physiological effects (such as throat irritation) of smoking.

Additionally, many who smoke mentholated cigars are members of social and cultural communities targeted with tobacco marketing that appeals to their ethnic pride and shared experiences. It includes advertising in local communities and sponsoring events like Black History Month, Cinco de Mayo, and Pride Fest, where menthols have been targeted toward black communities and are exposed to twice as much outdoor menthol tobacco advertising as in white neighborhoods.

Menthol is a Naturally Occurring Chemical

Mint leaves contain the naturally occurring chemical menthol, which may also be produced in a lab. It creates a cooling sensation when inhaled and relieves pain, reduces irritation and cools the skin. It can also be added to other tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and nicotine pouches. It makes the tobacco product seem less harsh and more appealing to youth and people who have never smoked. Adding menthol to cigarettes can cause smokers to puff harder and inhale more deeply, resulting in a greater dose of nicotine than non-mentholated cigarettes.

Additionally, it can speed up nicotine’s absorption into the brain, making it more addictive. In addition, menthol can cover up the harmful effects of second-hand smoke and mask unpleasant side effects of smoking, such as coughing. Menthol cigarettes are more popular among youth and African Americans and have been linked to higher levels of smoking addiction. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal would make incorporating menthol and other distinctive flavors in cigarette packaging illegal. It will help to reduce disease and death from combusted tobacco products, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases. A ban on menthol cigarettes could also decrease initiation and increase the number of smokers who quit for good.

Menthol is Not Addictive

Menthol is a natural chemical that occurs in mint plants. It is used in many products, including cigarettes and cigars. Menthol is not addictive and does not cause a person to smoke more or increase their nicotine intake. However, the tobacco industry does use menthol to trick smokers into thinking that their product is less harmful than it is. The menthol in cigarettes and cigars reduces the protective respiratory responses to irritants in cigarette smoke, which makes it easier for smokers to continue smoking. It is especially true for younger smokers. Menthol also increases the perceived social acceptability of smoking and makes it more appealing to young people. Studies have shown that mentholated cigarettes and cigars are more popular among low-income, minority communities and younger smokers. They are also more difficult to quit than non-mentholated cigarettes. The menthol flavor also changes how the body metabolizes nicotine, which can make it more difficult for a person to quit smoking. Researchers found that mentholated cigarettes and cigars have lower quit rates than non-mentholated cigarettes. It is because menthol masks the negative effects of smoking, such as throat burn and cough. In addition, menthol has an anesthetic and soothing effect on the lungs, which leads to less throat pain and discomfort. Moreover, menthol may advance smokers from experimental and light smoking to established smoking by masking their desire to stop smoking.

Menthol is Just as Harmful as Regular Cigarettes

When added to cigarettes, it creates a minty flavor and cool sensation in the mouth and throat. It also masks the harshness of tobacco, makes it more appealing to youth and young adults, increases initiation and dependence and reduces cessation success compared to non-mentholated cigarettes. Research has shown that mentholated cigarettes are as harmful as regular cigarettes and cause more disease and death. They expose the body to thousands of chemicals, including nearly 70 known cancer causes. They harm the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth and reproductive organs and can lead to second-hand smoke exposure.

Moreover, they promote health disparities by increasing cigarette use in certain vulnerable populations, particularly among youth and young adults. Menthol cigarettes are more addictive than normal cigarettes, and they encourage young smokers to start smoking and become dependent on nicotine, according to the Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. In addition, mentholated cigarettes are promoted in minority and low-income communities by aggressively marketing them at convenience stores and advertising in and around neighborhood retailers. Almost twice as many menthol promotions are seen in black neighborhoods compared to white ones.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.