A team of University of Florida Health Cancer Center researchers has found racial and ethnic differences in how people begin using menthol-flavored tobacco products and subsequently use tobacco products.
The team evaluated racial and ethnic differences in the initiation of smoking menthol and mint-flavored cigarettes and cigars among never-users and in subsequent tobacco use among new users of menthol-flavored products. The researchers used longitudinal data from Waves 1 to 4 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study.
The study, published April 14 in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, found Black and Hispanic people had higher rates of initiation and Black people had higher rates of subsequent use. Taken together, the findings indicate Black and Hispanic people are more likely than non-Hispanic white people to become smokers by using mentholated products, the researchers said.
The new findings suggest educational and regulatory actions for menthol-flavored tobacco products are needed, the researchers concluded. Prior research has shown that the use of flavored tobacco products can promote smoking initiation and make toxic tobacco products more socially acceptable.
Coauthors from the UF Health Cancer Center were Ramzi Salloum, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics in the UF College of Medicine; Georges Khalil, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics; Ji-Hyun Lee, DrPH, professor in the department of biostatistics and director of the Division of Quantitative Sciences at the Cancer Center; and Xiang-Yang Lou, Ph.D., research professor in the department of biostatistics. All are members of the Cancer Center’s Cancer Control & Population Sciences research program.