A young woman exhales cigarette smoke in Shanghai, China. The People’s Republic of China is both the world’s largest producer and largest consumer of tobacco, which has led to an impending cancer epidemic in the most populous country on Earth.
Photograph by Justin Guariglia
According to a study conducted by University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), the poison in menthol cigarettes goes down easier.
Menthol is a compound that triggers the cold-sensitive nerves in the skin and used to relieve throat irritation. Because of the cooling sensation of menthol, menthol cigarettes smokers are able to inhale more smoke per cigarette (causing more nicotine and carbon monoxide poison per cigarette). The menthol additive makes it easier to smoke a larger number of cigarettes by numbing the body from the harshness of the smoke on the throat.
More nicotine inhaled per cigarette means even if you cut down the number of cigarettes you have per day, you may still be addicted to the same amount of nicotine. Because the body is addicted to certain level of nicotine, rather than numbers of cigarettes, mentholated cigarettes are harder to quit…because menthol smokers get by on fewer cigarettes per day.
Dr. Kolawole Okuyemi of the University of Minnesota states “If you take a menthol smoker who smokes 10 cigarettes and a non-menthol smoker who smokes 10 cigarettes a day, the carbon monoxide, the nicotine and cotinine [a byproduct of nicotine] will be higher for the menthol smoker.” That suggests “there is something about menthol that makes it easier to smoke more intensely,” Okuyemi says.