The use of and beliefs about menthol cigarettes among Brazilian smokers: findings from Wave 3 (2016-17) of the ITC Brazil Survey
Lorraine Craig 1  
,  
Geoffrey T. Fong 4, 5
,  
Mi Yan 1
,  
Susan Kaai 1
,  
 
 
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1
University of Waterloo, Canada
2
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil
3
Fundaçao do Cancer, Brazil
4
University of Waterloo, Dept of Psychology and School of Public Health and Health Systems, Canada
5
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada
6
University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, United States of America
7
National Institute of Public Health, Mexico
Publish date: 2018-03-01
 
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A486
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ABSTRACT
Background:
Menthol and other flavorings are appealing to young people. They mask the adverse effects of cigarette smoke, such as throat irritation, and are marketed as less harmful to appeal to health-concerned smokers. In March 2012, Brazil banned all flavors in tobacco products, including menthol, but the ban has not been implemented due to industry legal challenges. This is the first study in Brazil to examine menthol use and beliefs about menthols (particularly harm perceptions). Such research can increase an understanding of menthol use to inform/support regulatory action in Brazil and other countries.

Methods:
Data were from Wave 3 (2016-17) of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Brazil Survey, a cohort survey of adult smokers and non-smokers in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Porto Alegre. This study analyzed responses from 1216 smokers on prevalence and predictors of menthol use, beliefs about harmfulness, and support for banning additives.

Results:
In 2016-17, 7.8% of smokers with a regular cigarette brand reported that they smoked menthols (lowest of 10 ITC LMICs). 12.5% of smokers erroneously believed that menthol cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes (lowest of 7 ITC middle-income countries); 33.4% believed menthols are smoother on the throat and chest (lowest of 4 LMICs). 59.6% of smokers support a complete ban on all additives including flavorings (3rd highest among 14 ITC countries).

Conclusions:
These findings support Brazil's effort to ban all additives including menthol: menthol prevalence is comparatively low, erroneous beliefs that menthols are less harmful is low, and support for an additive ban is high. Brazilian media reporting of the risks of additives in the context of the tobacco industry injunction may have raised public awareness of the harms of additives and support for the ban. Also, the 2014 ban on advertising at points of sale may have reduced exposure to marketing of menthols.

eISSN:1617-9625