Menthol Cigarettes, Time to First Cigarette, and Smoking Cessation

Edward Sanders 1 , Rolf Weitkunat 2 , and Ruth Dempsey 2
  • 1 Edward Sanders Scientific Consulting, Peseux, Switzerland
  • 2 Philip Morris Products SA, Philip Morris International, Research & Development, Neuchâtel, Switzerland


The goal of the present work is to determine if menthol and non-menthol cigarette smokers differ with respect to time to first cigarette (TTFC) and successful smoking cessation via a meta-analysis of published results. For 13 independent estimates, menthol smokers were slightly but statistically significantly more likely to exhibit TTFC ≤ 5 min (random-effects odds ratio (OR) = 1.12; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.04–1.21), while 17 independent estimates provided a non-significant difference for TTFC ≤ 30 min (random-effects OR = 1.06; 95% CI, 0.96–1.16). For cessation studies, meta-analysis of 30 published estimates indicated a decreased likelihood for menthol cigarette smokers to quit (random-effects OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.80–0.96). There was no difference between cessation rates for Caucasian menthol and non-menthol cigarette smokers, but the results support that African American menthol cigarette smokers find it more difficult to quit. Adjustment of cessation for socioeconomic status eliminated any statistically significant advantage for smoking cessation in non-menthol smokers. In conclusion, these results suggest that the observed differences in cessation rates between menthol and non-menthol cigarette smokers are likely explained by differences in socioeconomic status and also suggest that TTFC may not be a robust predictor of successful smoking cessation.

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