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Menthol cigarette bans encourage smokers to quit

2022 Sep 28, 7:52, Ohio [US]
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According to a recent study, the 2020 European menthol cigarette ban increased the likelihood that menthol smokers will give up smoking. This finding supports earlier Canadian research on the beneficial public health effects of the menthol cigarette ban.

Researchers from Maastricht University, the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands, the International Tobacco Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Christina Kyriakos from Imperial College London conducted the study under the direction of Christina Kyriakos.

According to Geoffrey T. Fong, professor of psychology and public health sciences at Waterloo and the project's lead investigator, "This Dutch study is our second major national study to provide evidence of the powerful impact of banning menthol cigarettes on quitting, which supports proposed menthol bans in the U.S. and other countries."

Before and after the EU menthol ban, the study team polled a national sample of adult smokers in the Netherlands who smoked both menthol and non-menthol cigarettes. 26.1 per cent of menthol smokers who were polled both before and after the ban had given up. This quit percentage was higher than that of the non-menthol smoking control group, which had a quit rate of only 14.1%.

In fact, the higher quit rate of 12% for menthol smokers following the European ban is higher than the higher quit rate of 7.3% discovered in an ITC study of the menthol ban that was in place across Canada in 2018.

Because menthol produces a cooling effect that lessens the harshness of smoke, tobacco makers have been adding it to cigarettes for decades. It makes smoking more accessible, increasing the likelihood that young people who don't smoke may start smoking regularly and develop a nicotine addiction.

The World Health Organization and numerous other public health organisations have urged nations to outlaw menthol cigarettes for more than ten years in an effort to curb smoking, which kills 7.1 million smokers and 1.2 million non-smokers annually due to secondhand smoke. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global tobacco control agreement, calls on nations to outlaw or regulate menthol and other aids to smoking.

To date, menthol cigarettes are prohibited in 35 nations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled a proposed regulation to prohibit menthol in cigarettes and cigars on April 28, 2022. A ban on menthol cigarettes in the United States is expected to result in the cessation of more than 1.3 million smokers, according to an ITC study on the effects of the Canadian ban that was published that day.

The Dutch study also discovered that one-third of menthol smokers admitted to carrying on with their habit despite the prohibition. The tobacco industry sells a variety of accessories so that consumers can flavour their own tobacco products with menthol.

"The effectiveness of the menthol prohibition is weakened by these activities by the cigarette industry. The impact of the menthol ban on quitting could be even greater if regulations were tightened to include these menthol add-ons, according to Marc Willemsen, co-author of the Dutch study, professor of tobacco control research at Maastricht University, and scientific director of tobacco control at the Trimbos Institute.

Impact of the European Union's menthol cigarette ban on smoking cessation outcomes: Longitudinal findings from the 2020-2021 ITC Netherlands Surveys is the study's title, and it was published in the journal Tobacco Control. 


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