Menthol cigarette use and pain reporting among African American adults seeking treatment for smoking cessation

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Nicotine has acute pain-relieving properties, and tobacco smokers often report using cigarettes to cope with pain. The proportion of smokers using menthol cigarettes has increased in recent years, and there is reason to suspect that menthol may enhance the analgesic effects of nicotine. Up to 90% of African American smokers report using menthol cigarettes, and African Americans tend to report more severe pain and greater difficulty quitting. Yet no known research has examined the relationship between menthol cigarette use and pain reporting. Thus, the goal of the current study was to test associations between menthol (vs. nonmenthol) cigarette use and pain among a sample of African American smokers. Current daily cigarette smokers (N = 115; 70% male; Mage = 47.05; MCPD = 15.2) were recruited to participate in a smoking cessation study. These data were collected at the baseline session. Daily menthol (vs. nonmenthol) cigarette use was associated with lower current pain intensity, lower average and worst pain over the past 3 months, and less pain-related physical impairment over the past 3 months. This study demonstrates that menthol (vs. nonmenthol) cigarette use is associated with less pain and pain-related functional interference among African American smokers seeking tobacco cessation treatment. Future research is needed to examine the potential acute analgesic effects of menthol versus nonmenthol cigarette use, examine temporal covariation between menthol cigarette use and pain reporting, and test whether pain-relevant processes contribute to the maintenance of menthol cigarette smoking among those with and without chronic pain. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology

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