Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Tougher to Quit Menthol Cigarettes?

Study Shows More Risk for Smoking Relapse With Menthol Cigarettes
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 25, 2006 -- Menthol cigarettes may be harder to quit smoking than nonmenthol cigarettes, doctors write in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The doctors included Mark Pletcher, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco.

They checked data on 1,535 smokers from a 15-year study of heart health.

When the study started in 1985, participants were 18-30 years old. They got a checkup and noted their smoking habits in 1985 and two, five, seven, 10, and 15 years later.

The group included 972 people who smoked menthol cigarettes, which have a minty flavor, and 563 who smoked nonmenthol cigarettes.

Of those smokers, 878 were black. The vast majority of the black smokers -- 783 people, or nearly 90% -- smoked menthol cigarettes.

Study's Findings

Over the years, all smokers were at risk for heart and lung problems, whether they smoked menthol or nonmenthol cigarettes.

Menthol smokers had increased risk to start smoking again. They also seemed to be less likely to try to quit smoking, or to successfully quit smoking, although these trends may have been due to chance.

The reasons for those findings aren't clear.

The study included few whites who smoked menthol cigarettes, and few blacks who smoked nonmenthol cigarettes.

It's hard to tell whether menthol cigarettes made it harder to quit smoking, or whether menthol cigarette smokers were less likely to quit smoking for other reasons.

It's possible that switching from menthol to nonmenthol cigarettes might make it easier to quit smoking, the researchers note. But they didn't test that theory directly.

"The primary goal of public health officials, physicians, and patients should be to reduce all tobacco smoke exposure regardless of menthol content," Pletcher's team writes.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch