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If you are searching for a sign from the universe to quit smoking, look no further. “The FDA recently proposed new product standards to ban the manufacturing and distribution of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars,” said Charles Shieh, M.D., thoracic surgeon and director of Inspira’s Lung Cancer program. “This proposal is in response to public health concerns about the dangers of menthol cigarettes and their popularity with some smokers.”
What is menthol?
Menthol is a chemical compound found naturally in peppermint and other related plants, and it can also be synthetically produced. In cigarettes and other tobacco products, it’s a minty additive that creates a cooling sensation during smoking.
“Menthol can affect how your brain registers pain,” said Dr. Shieh. “It reduces the irritation to your throat that comes from nicotine and the harshness of the cigarette smoke when you inhale.”
Why is menthol added to cigarettes?
Manufacturers have added menthol to cigarettes and other tobacco products since the 1920s. Because of its painkilling properties and cooling sensation in the throat and airways, menthol makes smoke feel less harsh and easier to inhale. As a result, tobacco products may seem more appealing to young people.
What are the health risks associated with smoking menthol cigarettes?
Because menthol masks the bitter harshness of cigarette smoke, people who smoke menthol cigarettes often smoke more and inhale more deeply. Over the years, this equates to the consumption of larger quantities of toxic chemicals and tar.
According to research from the FDA, menthol can increase the addictive properties of nicotine—making it harder to quit smoking. “No tobacco products are good for you, and menthol cigarettes put your health at risk just as much as non-menthol cigarettes,” said Dr. Shieh. “However, because of their role in smoking dependence and reduced cessation rate, menthol cigarettes are a public health concern.”
Break the habit
Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. When you are ready, Inspira’s Quit Center can help. The Quit Center offers a free six-week personalized program led by certified tobacco treatment specialists to help double your chance of successfully quitting. With one-on-one counseling, group support and individualized quit plans, you can equip yourself with all the resources needed to succeed. The program offers nicotine replacement therapy, and follow-up sessions after program completion. Every participant is assessed for lung cancer screening eligibility, and those who are eligible receive a referral.
Quitting is one of the best things you can do for yourself, regardless of your age or how long you have been smoking. Contact us to begin your personalized plan today.
Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.