Background: Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for cancer. Studies show that current smokers have higher body mass index (BMI) than non-smokers, thus increasing their risk for disease. However, few studies have examined how the type of cigarette smoked (menthol/non-menthol) influences BMI categories.
Aim: This study investigates 1) the relationship between menthol cigarette smoking and obesity and 2) the association of BMI with the nicotine metabolite ratio among young adult menthol and non-menthol daily smokers.
Methods: Young adult smokers aged 18-35 years were recruited via Craigslist.com, newspaper advertisements, and peer-to-peer referrals to participate in a laboratory study (n=175). Participants completed a brief survey that assessed sociodemographics, smoking history, and psychosocial factors. Measured height and weight were used to compute BMI. Carbon monoxide and saliva samples were collected. We used multiple regression (ANCOVA) to estimate differences in overall BMI and BMI categories, controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, marital, education, and employment status. We calculated the log of the nicotine metabolite ratio to examine differences for normal, overweight, and obese smokers.
Results: Results showed that 62% of normal, 54% of overweight, and 91% of obese smokers used menthol cigarettes (p< 0.0001). After controlling for the covariates, BMI was not significantly higher among menthol compared to non-menthol smokers (29 versus 27 p< 0.0001). However, 38% of menthol compared to 51% of non-menthol smokers were normal weight; 22% versus 40% were overweight; and 41% versus 9% were obese (p < 0.0001). Although non-menthol smokers had higher nicotine metabolite ratios than menthol smokers who were normal, overweight, and obese, these differences were not significant.
Conclusions: Consistent with prior studies that suggest that menthol smokers have higher BMI than non-menthol smokers, our data show that menthol smokers are more likely to be obese. Studies are needed to determine how flavored tobacco products influence BMI among smokers.