The findings were based on the data analysis and computational modeling infrastructure compiled as part of the Center for the Assessment of Tobacco Regulations. The research team used the Smoking and Vaping Model, a simulation model they had previously developed to study smoking and vaping behaviour with regards to menthol and non-menthol cigarettes.
They found that in the presence of a menthol ban, combined menthol and non-menthol cigarette smoking would decline by 15% by 2026. Deaths attributable to smoking and vaping were estimated to drop by about 5% and life-years lost by 8.8%. This would translate to 16,250 deaths less per year and 11 million life-years gained (almost 300,000 per year) over a 40-year period.
“Recent evidence finds that a menthol ban would likely increase smoking cessation, with more limited evidence of reducing smoking initiation and switching from smoking to other products like e-cigarettes,” said lead study author David Levy, a professor of Oncology at Georgetown University.
Canada’s menthol ban
Supporting these arguments, research from Canada has shown that the local menthol ban has had a positive effect on local smoking cessation rates. The study suggests that a similar ban in the United States would have even greater benefits, given that menthol cigarettes are even more popular across the States. “From our findings, we estimate that banning menthol cigarettes in the U.S. would lead an additional 923,000 smokers to quit, including 230,000 African American smokers,” said researcher Geoffrey Fong, principal investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.
Canada was the one of the first countries to implement a ban on menthol cigarettes, and the first country where a menthol ban has been evaluated. To examine the menthol ban impact, Fong and his colleagues surveyed nearly 1,100 non-menthol and 138 menthol smokers in 2016, before the ban and in 2018, after the ban, across seven Canadian provinces, covering 83 per cent of the Canadian population.