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    It has been suggested that menthol increases exposure to harmful elements of smoking and makes smoking more rewarding, easier to initiate, and harder to quit. Isolating the direct effects of menthol is challenging as African American (AA) race and menthol preference are highly overlapping. This study evaluated smoking behavior and subjective responses among a balanced sample of AA and white menthol and non-menthol smokers. In addition, smoking topography (ST) was compared to naturalistic smoking (NS) and interactions with menthol and race were explored. Smokers (N = 100) smoked and rated their preferred brand of cigarettes via ST or NS during two laboratory visits (counterbalanced). Controlling for baseline differences among the groups (eg, nicotine dependence), menthol smokers took shorter and smaller puffs and AA smokers took longer puffs, but there were no differences in total puff volume, carbon monoxide, or other ST parameters. Menthol smokers reported greater urge reduction and lower sensory stimulation. The smoking method (ST vs. NS) had no effects on smoking behavior or exposure. Cigarettes smoked via ST were rated stronger. Differences in satisfaction based on the smoking method interacted with race and menthol status. Ratings of aversion differed by race and menthol status. Menthol was not associated with increased smoke exposure or reward (except for urge reduction). ST caused minimal experimental reactivity relative to NS. Additional research that isolates the effects of menthol and examines potential interactive effects with race and other variables is needed to better understand its role in smoking-related health disparities. Menthol and non-menthol smokers differed on some demographic variables and menthol preference was associated with greater nicotine dependence and greater urge reduction after smoking. Menthol was not associated with greater smoke exposure. Future research that investigates the unique risks associated with menthol and examines potential interactive effects with race and other related variables is warranted to better understand the role of menthol in smoking-related health disparities. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Tommy Gunawan, Laura M Juliano. Differences in Smoking Topography and Subjective Responses to Smoking Among African American and White Menthol and Non-Menthol Smokers. Nicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. 2020 Oct 08;22(10):1718-1725

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    PMID: 32391555

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