Krysten Bold, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, has received an R01 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to study the impact of a menthol flavor ban in cigarettes and e-cigarettes to inform tobacco policy.
Menthol cigarettes remain a large public health problem. Menthol cigarette use is associated with greater nicotine dependence and lower rates of quitting smoking, and rates of menthol cigarette use are highest nationally among Black adults, contributing to tobacco-related health disparities.
The FDA has announced a plan to ban menthol flavor in cigarettes, and Bold’s project will provide information to support these tobacco policies by studying the potential effect of a menthol ban in cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or both products.
It is possible that allowing menthol flavors in e-cigarettes will help adults stop smoking, particularly if menthol cigarettes are banned. However, if menthol flavors in e-cigarettes are not helpful for adults to stop smoking, then the FDA may consider banning these flavors as well to protect public health.
Her research team will recruit 150 adults who currently smoke menthol cigarettes and participants will have an opportunity to use products either with or without menthol flavor for eight weeks to model different regulatory scenarios where menthol is banned in either cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or both products. The primary outcome will evaluate changes in the number of cigarettes smoked per day and will examine differences between those using products with or without menthol.
Researchers will evaluate changes in smoking behavior and compare the number of smoke-free days; changes in nicotine dependence; and motivation, confidence, and intentions to quit smoking. They will examine whether changes in the outcomes differ by Black vs. non-Black participants to compare the magnitude of the effect of the various menthol ban scenarios by race.
Results will contribute critical information to inform regulatory policies regarding menthol in cigarettes and e-cigarettes to maximally reduce the use of combustible cigarettes and promote health equity.