Gay and bi women are more likely to smoke menthols

"...these high rates of menthol use among bisexual female smokers may be exacerbating cigarette smoking disparities," says Ollie Ganz. (Credit: Pete Anderson/Flickr)

Bisexual and lesbian/gay female smokers are particularly likely to go for menthol cigarettes, research finds.

Compared with heterosexual smokers, menthol cigarette smoking is higher among lesbian, gay, and bisexual cigarette smokers, according to the study.

The research, which appears in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, examines national data from 2015 to 2019 of individuals ages 18 years and older by sex and sexual identity. The findings indicate that among smokers, 54 and 50% of bisexual and lesbian/gay females smokers preferred menthol cigarettes, respectively, compared with 39% of smokers overall.

This study comes in the wake of plans by the US Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes—a move that the researchers say is necessary considering menthol’s popularity among vulnerable populations, including youth smokers and Black smokers.

“There is a lot of research showing that bisexual females report disproportionately high rates of substance use, including cigarette smoking,” says Ollie Ganz, lead author and instructor at the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies at Rutgers University.

“Our study confirms that this is also the case for menthol cigarettes. Given what we know about the impact of menthol on initiation, nicotine dependence, and quit success, these high rates of menthol use among bisexual female smokers may be exacerbating cigarette smoking disparities.”

Future studies are needed, the researchers say, to inform targeted interventions to prevent people from starting to smoke menthol cigarettes and to promote quitting smoking among lesbian, gay, and bisexual smokers. Future research also examine the impact of a potential menthol ban, like the one proposed that the FDA has proposed, on this population.

Source: Rutgers University