Mint and Tobacco E-Cigs' Impact on Smokers' Withdrawal Symptoms

Jim Crocker
4th March, 2024

Mint and Tobacco E-Cigs' Impact on Smokers' Withdrawal Symptoms

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study at Brown University found menthol e-cigs reduce the urge to smoke more than tobacco-flavored ones
  • Menthol flavor uniquely cut the desire to smoke for pleasure among menthol cigarette smokers
  • No change in mood or overall nicotine withdrawal symptoms was seen with different e-cig flavors
In recent years, the landscape of smoking has shifted significantly. While overall cigarette smoking rates are in decline, menthol cigarette use has remained consistent or even increased among certain demographics, such as young adults, women, and non-Hispanic Black individuals[2]. This trend raises questions about the role of alternative nicotine delivery systems, like e-cigarettes, in potentially altering the smoking habits of menthol cigarette users. A pilot study conducted by the Brown University School of Public Health[1] aimed to shed light on this issue by investigating how different e-cigarette flavors affect tobacco withdrawal symptoms in daily menthol cigarette smokers who have not previously used e-cigarettes. The study involved 17 adult participants who were asked to refrain from smoking for 16 hours before attending three separate laboratory sessions. In each session, participants were given a JUUL e-cigarette with a different flavor: mint, menthol, or tobacco. The order in which they received these flavors was randomized to prevent the sequence from influencing the results. Before and after using the e-cigarette, participants reported on their urges to smoke, nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and changes in their mood. The findings were intriguing. Both mint and menthol flavors led to a more significant decrease in the urge to smoke compared to the tobacco flavor. However, the menthol flavor was the only one that specifically reduced the desire to smoke for pleasure, suggesting that menthol e-cigarettes might have a unique appeal for menthol cigarette smokers looking to satisfy their cravings. These results are particularly relevant in light of ongoing discussions about the regulation of menthol and other flavored tobacco products. Previous studies have shown that bans on menthol in cigarettes can lead to a decrease in the number of cigarettes smoked and an increase in the motivation to quit smoking among African American menthol smokers[3]. The current study adds to this by suggesting that menthol-flavored e-cigarettes might serve as a viable alternative for those trying to reduce or quit smoking menthol cigarettes. However, there's also a cautionary aspect to these findings. Other research has indicated that the availability of menthol-flavored e-cigarettes from certain manufacturers may expose users to harmful substances like synthetic coolants and pulegone, which carry health risks[4]. Additionally, if menthol cigarettes are banned or become more expensive, smokers might switch to other menthol tobacco products, like little cigars and cigarillos, or to menthol vapes[5]. This potential for product substitution underscores the complexity of regulating menthol and other flavored tobacco products. The study from Brown University School of Public Health, while small in scale, provides valuable insights into how different e-cigarette flavors might influence smoking behavior among menthol cigarette users. It suggests that menthol-flavored e-cigarettes could potentially help reduce smoking urges, particularly for pleasure, during attempts to abstain from tobacco. However, it also highlights the need for larger, more comprehensive studies to fully understand the implications of flavored e-cigarettes on smoking patterns and public health. As the debate around the regulation of menthol and other flavored tobacco products continues, it's clear that more research is needed to inform policies that balance reducing the harm of tobacco use with the risk of introducing new health concerns. The findings from this pilot study contribute to a growing body of evidence that will be crucial for public health officials and regulators as they strive to create effective tobacco control interventions.

MedicineHealthPlant Science


Main Study

1) Effects of mint, menthol, and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes on tobacco withdrawal symptoms in adults who smoke menthol cigarettes: A laboratory pilot study.

Published 1st March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Menthol Cigarette Smoking Trends among United States Adults, 2003-2019.

3) Effect of restricting menthol flavored cigarettes or E-cigarettes on smoking behavior in menthol smokers.

4) Flavour chemicals, synthetic coolants and pulegone in popular mint-flavoured and menthol-flavoured e-cigarettes.

5) The impact of menthol flavoring in combusted tobacco on alternative product purchasing: A pilot study using the Experimental Tobacco Marketplace.

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