Last week, the UK banned the sale of menthol cigarettes, menthol filters and papers, and skinny cigarettes, in an effort to stop young people from smoking.
In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said menthol cigarettes are more harmful than other cigarettes, but their sale continues in the US as well as in India.
How are menthol cigarettes different?
Menthol cigarettes have a similar design to regular cigarettes, but use menthol additives either mixed with the tobacco or within/near the cigarette filter to release a burst of menthol flavor when inhaled.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half the smokers (54%) between the ages 12 to 17 prefer menthol cigarettes. Further, a majority of those who start smoking as young adults start with menthol cigarettes.
Why is it easier to get addicted to menthol cigarettes?
Menthol masks the harshness of the cigarette, which makes smoking them more pleasurable and an easy choice for beginners. In addition, they are also easier to get addicted to because their cooling effect decreases the cough reflex, and can soothe the throat dryness that many smokers usually experience.
Why are menthol cigarettes more harmful than non-menthol ones?
Because of the masking effect of menthol, people end up inhaling smoke from menthol cigarettes more deeply. People also tend to hold the smoke longer in their lungs due to its cooling properties. That’s one reason that menthol smokers’ lungs end up being more exposed to the dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke, one study found.
Smoking menthol cigarettes also results in slower nicotine metabolism and clearance — the time it takes for the body to break nicotine into cotinine to be cleared from the system. The presence of high levels of nicotine in the body poses a risk of increased blood pressure and heart rate and, in some cases, might also contribute to the hardening of the arterial walls, leading to a heart attack.
Anubhuti Matta – The Swaddle -May 25, 2020.