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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Comparison of Serum Cotinine Concentration within and across Smokers of Menthol and Nonmenthol ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Comparison of Serum Cotinine Concentration within and across Smokers of Menthol and Nonmenthol Cigarette Brands among Non-Hispanic Black and Non-Hispanic White U.S. Adult Smokers, 2001-2006
Ralph S. Caraballo, David B. Holiday, Steven D. Stellman, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011;20:1329-1340.

This study examined the relationship between smoking a menthol or nonmenthol cigarette brand on cotinine levels (adjusted by the number of cigarettes smoked per day) among non-Hispanic black and white U.S. adult smokers. The study was an attempt to understand whether the preference for menthol cigarettes in black smokers accounts for their higher cotinine levels. Results showed that smoking a menthol cigarette brand versus smoking a nonmenthol cigarette brand was not associated with mean serum cotinine concentration in either black or white smokers. The authors call for additional studies like this one to better understand health consequences of future changes in tobacco product design.

In a commentary on this article, "Menthol Should Not Be Given a Free Pass Based on Studies of Biomarkers of Toxicity,” Clark and Gardiner argue that the conclusions of the study should not lead us to conclude that there is no increased harm from the addition of menthol to cigarettes. To do so defines "harm” much more narrowly than is appropriate for this issue. Instead, they argue that menthol's harm stems from its masking of the harshness of tobacco smoke, its use in starter products for children, its interference with quitting and staying quit, and the deliberate targeting of menthol cigarettes to vulnerable populations. (Clark and Gardiner. Menthol Should Not Be Given a Free Pass Based on Studies of Biomarkers of Toxicity. Commentary on Caraballo et al., p. 1329. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011;20:1269-1271. Published online July 6, 2011.)


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