Quitting Menthol Cigarettes
What is menthol? Why is it harder to quit menthol cigarettes than non-menthol?
Menthol is a flavor that is added to cigarettes. It makes smoking feel "smoother" - kind of like sucking on a menthol cough drop while you're smoking. That cooling feeling makes it easier to inhale more deeply. And deep inhales give you a bigger dose of nicotine. Over time, more nicotine receptors develop in your brain which makes it harder to quit.
Who smokes menthols?
Tobacco companies have targeted certain groups with menthol cigarette ads for years. This is why nearly 90% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes. Menthol cigarettes are also more popular among Hispanics, Asian Americans, women, LGBTQ+, and teen smokers than other groups of smokers. These groups are more likely to experience the negative health effects of menthol.
Will menthol cigarettes stop being sold soon?
In April 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would remove menthol from cigarettes within a year. They also plan to remove all flavors, including menthol, from cigars. As of April 24 2023, that hasn't happened yet but it's why you may have seen menthol cigarettes in the news.
About 40% of menthol smokers said they would quit smoking if menthol cigarettes were not available. When the FDA finally bans menthol cigarettes, it will make a big difference in helping millions of people to quit smoking.
How can I quit using menthol cigarettes?
Quitting menthol cigarettes is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health. This is true no matter how old you are or how long you have smoked.
Here are 3 starting tips:
1. Switch to Non-Menthol Products
Switch to non-menthol cigarettes for a week or so before your quit date. You may not like the taste but it can improve your chances of quitting.
2. Practice "Mini Quits"
Practice "mini quits" by not smoking one cigarette you would usually smoke. It will give you experience dealing with cravings. And your confidence will grow. We've got tons of tips and strategies in our EX Community.
3. Use Medication to Make Quitting More Comfortable
In addition to switching brands, use a nicotine replacement medication like the patch or gum.
What are other people doing to quit menthol cigarettes?
- "NOPE." Say it out loud each time you want to smoke. Not One Puff Ever!
- Focus on the benefits of quitting. Clear skin. Fresh breath. And a pocket full of money to spend on other things. Check out this post from an EX Community member who is celebrating a menthol ban.
- Tackle cravings. Some EX Community members have found it helpful to use Vicks VapoRub as a crave-killer.