Increased attention is being paid to the pathophysiology of addiction. It turns out that the addition of menthol as a flavoring agents seems to be a partner to nicotine in promoting addiction (see: Menthol May Be Nicotine's Partner In Addiction). Here is an excerpt from the article:
According to a new study, people who smoke menthol cigarettes seem to have more difficulty quitting than those who smoke regular cigarettes. Nicotine is definitely addictive, but scientists have been debating for several decades the effect of menthol in hooking people on tobacco. Some researchers suspect that menthol allows smokers to take deeper drags or puffs on cigarettes, drawing in greater amounts of nicotine and its byproducts....In a cessation program at his university, [the director of a smoking cessation program] found that people who smoked menthol cigarettes seemed to have more difficulty quitting than those who smoked regular cigarettes....The current cost of smoking, particularly in the northeastern United States, would certainly be enough to make a poor person want to break the habit. In New Jersey, a pack of cigarettes costs $8; in Manhattan, a pack costs $11....Those who smoke menthols say it creates a cooling, soothing sensation. Menthol is a cooling agent, [an expert on the topic] says, and that makes it easier to inhale more smoke per cigarette and perhaps get more nicotine. A [recent] study...found that African-Americans who smoke menthol cigarettes inhale a higher volume of carbon monoxide compared to those who smoke non-menthol cigarettes....They also take in more byproducts of nicotine that can be measured in the blood or the saliva. Among African-Americans who smoke, the vast majority smoke mentholated cigarettes, and many of these studies compared biochemical markers in black and white smokers. It may have more to do with the fact that African-Americans metabolize nicotine more slowly....That would mean that they are more likely to retain nicotine.
I have always wondered why African-Americans seem to favor menthol cigarettes. Although you can't discount taste and the accepted norms in a community, the ideas pertaining to menthol cigarettes in this article seem to me to make sense. Menthol sooths the throat and allows the smoker to hold the smoke longer in his lungs and thus absorb more nicotine.The idea that African-Americans may metabolize nicotine more slowly than white smokers was also new to me.
There is no good news in this story for smokers. A one-pack-a-day smoker about $8-11 per day to suport his habit. Moreover, it's getting harder and harder or a smoker to even get a job (see: Tobacco-Free Hiring Takes Hold; Both Smoking and Smokers Excluded). Good reasons to try to stop smoking addition to the personal health benefits that accrue.
If you are feeling sorry for smokers, point your browser to the Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control web site. It was developed by Dr. Michael Siegel, a physician with 21 years of experience in tobacco control, who recently became disillusioned by the direction in which the anti-smoking movement is going.