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Sep 10, 2013 07:56 AM EDT

Methanol Cigarette Use Increasing Among Teens and Young Adults, Study

Menthol cigarette smoking is steadily increasing among young adults.
(Photo : Buffalo) Menthol cigarette smoking is steadily increasing among young adults.

Menthol cigarette smoking is steadily increasing among young adults, which is ruining overall efforts to curb smoking among teens, according to a new study.

'Our findings indicate that youth are heavy consumers of mentholated cigarettes, and that overall menthol cigarette smoking has either remained constant or increased in all three age groups we studied, while non-menthol smoking has decreased,' said lead researcher Dr Gary Giovino, professor of the University at Buffalo Department of Community Health and Health Behaviours.

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Giovino arrived at the conclusion after studying menthol and non-menthol cigarette exploitation between 2004 and 2010 from annual data of nearly 390,000 people (12 years old and older) who participated in the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The data comprised of more than 84,000 smokers.

He found that 57 percent of smokers among 12 to 17-year-olds consumed menthol cigrattes when compared to 45 percent of 18-25 year olds about 30.5 percent to 32.9 percent of older smokers.

Menthol use was also popular with females, non-whites and younger people.

Among adolescents, non-menthol smoking rate decreased from 2004 to 2010, and menthol cigarette smoking percentage remained the same. As far as young adults are concerned, the percentage of non-menthol cigarettes exploitation declined and menthol smoking rates increased.

Throughout the study, consumption of Camel menthol and Marlboro menthol increased among adolescents and young adult smokers, particularly in non-Hispanic whites.

"The study results should inform the FDA regarding the potential public health impact of a menthol ban,' Giovino said. "The FDA is considering banning menthol cigarettes, or other regulatory options. This research provides an important view of the trends and patterns of menthol use in the nation as a whole."

Giovino is troubled by the findings that revealed that young people used mentholated cigarettes more.

"This finding indicates that mentholated cigarettes are a 'starter product' for kids in part because menthol makes it easier to inhale for beginners," said Giovino. "Simply stated, menthol sweetens the poison, making it easier to smoke. Young people often think menthol cigarettes are safer, in part because they feel less harsh."

"When I was growing up, one of my older friends said he didn't think that menthol cigarette smoking was that dangerous because he was told that they were good for you if you got a cold. It turns out that Kool was advertising that way for a long time but was stopped from doing so by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) around 1955. This 'urban legend' has persisted," said Giovino.

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