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Menthol Use in Smokers with Mental Illness: Examination of Sensory Preferences and Price Sensitivity

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Objectives: To examine sensory preferences and price sensitivity correlates of menthol smoking among smokers with mental illness. Methods: In a diverse sample (N = 481; 53% male; 48% white) of adult smokers hospitalized with mental illness, we examined tobacco preference (menthol, non-menthol, dual use) in relation to price sensitivity and sensory correlates. Results: The sample identified as 27% menthol-only, 31% dual users, and 42% non-menthol users. Controlling for related demographic characteristics (sex, ethnicity, education, income, age) and mental health diagnosis, relative to non-menthol users, menthol-only smokers preferred cigarettes characterized as soothing, smooth, clean-tasting, cooling and minty, and dual users reported less dry mouth, greater hunger, and preference for cooling, minty cigarettes, with an easy draw, and pleasant smelling smoke. Whereas menthol-only users stated affordability guided their cigarette selection, in a price sensitivity challenge, menthol-only users were the most flavor-loyal, and dual users were the most price sensitive. Conclusions: Menthol-only users, dual users, and non-menthol users with mental illness have distinct sensory preferences and reasons for smoking. Restricting menthol-characterizing flavoring in cigarettes may reduce smoking initiation and support cessation efforts among menthol-only users with mental illness.
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Keywords: CIGARETTE SMOKING; MENTAL HEALTH; MENTHOL; PSYCHIATRY; TOBACCO REGULATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2015

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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