Study Finds Manipulation of Menthol Levels
A new Harvard study claims that the tobacco industry in recent years has manipulated menthol levels in cigarettes to hook youngsters and maintain loyalty among smoking adults. The report could further inflame a controversy over menthol in pending tobacco legislation.
The study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, released Wednesday, concludes that manufacturers have marketed brands to what it called a “vulnerable population” of adolescents and young adults by “manipulating sensory elements of cigarettes to promote initiation and dependence.”
Young people, the study said, tolerate menthol cigarettes better than harsher nonmenthol cigarettes. In low-level menthol cigarettes, the menthol primarily masks harshness, making it easier to begin smoking. But as smokers become more accustomed to menthol, they prefer stronger menthol sensations, according to the study.