Impact of Smoking Cessation Motivations and Barriers on Quit Intentions Following a Hypothetical Flavor Ban Among African American/Black Individuals Who Use Menthol Cigarettes: A Mixed-Methods Study


Nicotine Tob Res. 2024 May 31;26(Supplement_2):S121-S132. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntad062.


INTRODUCTION: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed banning cigarettes and cigars with characterizing flavors-products used disproportionately by African American/black (AA/B) individuals. Little is known about how AA/B individuals who smoke menthol cigarettes will respond to flavor bans or how to amplify the intended benefits. This study explored predictors of quit intentions following a hypothetical flavor ban and further probed anticipated ban-related responses.

AIMS AND METHODS: We recruited 213 AA/B individuals who use menthol cigarettes from Richmond, VA (September 2021-August 2022) for a mixed-methods study. Participants rated seven motivations for quitting and six barriers to quitting (Not a motivation or challenge[1]-Major motivation or challenge[4]), then reported how likely they were to quit smoking if characterizing flavors were banned in cigarettes and cigars. A subsample of 31 participants completed semi-structured interviews to further explore reactions to flavor restriction policies.

RESULTS: Multivariable linear regressions suggested that participants who were more motivated to quit smoking because of “information about health hazards” and the “cost of cigarettes” reported higher quit intentions following a hypothetical menthol ban (p < .05). Additionally, those with cessation-related weight concerns reported lower post-ban quit intentions (p < .05). Interview themes highlighted smoking for stress reduction, harm/addiction perceptions of flavored tobacco products, trusted sources of tobacco-related information (including testimonials from people who formerly smoked), potential ban responses, and varying experiences with cessation strategies.

CONCLUSIONS: Culturally specific cessation strategies that emphasize the health-related benefits of quitting, particularly those featuring the experiences of people who formerly smoked, may help AA/B individuals who smoke menthol cigarettes quit following a menthol ban.

IMPLICATIONS: For the FDA’s proposed bans on characterizing flavors in cigarettes and cigars to advance racial health equity, they must maximize cessation among African American/black (AA/B) individuals who use menthol cigarettes. This work suggests information on the health hazards and costs of smoking, as well as concerns over gaining weight, were predictors of quit intentions in a hypothetical flavor ban. Qualitative data suggest messaging highlighting the experiences of individuals who successfully quit may constitute an effective communication strategy. These insights can be used in the development of culturally specific cessation strategies for AA/B individuals who smoke menthol cigarettes.

PMID:38817032 | DOI:10.1093/ntr/ntad062