Meharry/Vanderbilt Study Finds Menthol Cigarettes, Which Are Popular Among Blacks, May Be Less Harmful Than Other Cigarettes

A study by researchers at historically black Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University has determined that while all smoking has detrimental health effects, smokers of menthol cigarettes may not be at as high a risk as other smokers. This is particularly noteworthy because blacks are far more likely than whites to smoke menthol cigarettes.

The results, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, show that people who smoke a pack a day or more of menthol cigarettes are 12 times as likely as nonsmokers to develop lung cancer. But those who smoke a pack a day or more of nonmenthol brands are 21 times as likely as nonsmokers to get lung cancer.

Some consumer groups have advocated a ban on menthol cigarettes because the flavor is more appealing to young smokers. Newport is the largest selling menthol brand with about 35 percent of the total menthol market.

One of the coauthors of the study is Dr. Margaret K. Hargreaves. She is director of the Prevention Research Unit in the department of internal medicine at Meharry Medical College.