A Quarter of Smokers Quit Under Menthol Bans, Study Finds

Nearly a quarter of menthol cigarette smokers quit in the year or two after a ban on menthol went into effect, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Researchers found that about half of the menthol smokers switched to other cigarettes and another quarter managed to keep smoking menthols. The rate of menthol smokers who quit was higher in nations that imposed bans, in contrast with cities or states, since it was harder for people to drive a few miles to keep buying menthol cigarettes, according to the study.

The Food and Drug Administration has been urging the Biden administration to impose a ban on menthol cigarettes, a goal that has generated intense opposition from retailers and tobacco companies alongside concerns in a presidential election year that it could alienate Black voters.

Black smokers, who heavily favor menthol cigarettes, also stand to gain the most from such a ban, public health researchers say, noting that premature deaths from cancer, heart and lung disease could be avoided after a sharp decline in smoking rates.

The study analyzed the effects of bans in other countries, including Canada and some in the European Union, as well as bans in force in states, including Massachusetts. The researchers reviewed studies, smoking rates and cigarette sales as part of their analysis.

“Our review found that a menthol ban will have a pro-equity impact, meaning that we expect smoking to reduce the most among Black individuals who smoke as compared to other racial or ethnic groups,” said Sarah Mills, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina school of public health.

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