Menthol is a substance naturally found in mint plants such as peppermint and spearmint. It gives a cooling sensation. It is often used to relieve minor pain and irritation and prevent infection.
Menthol is added to many products. These include lozenges, syrups, creams and ointments, nasal sprays, powders, and candy. But none of these products are lighted or smoked when used. That makes them different from menthol cigarettes.
Many smokers think menthol cigarettes are less harmful. There is no evidence that cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco products that have menthol are safer than other cigarettes.
Like other cigarettes, menthol cigarettes harm nearly every organ in the body. They cause many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Some research shows that menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes.
Menthol was first added to cigarettes in the 1920s. In the past, the tobacco industry marketed menthol cigarettes as being healthier and safer. Advertisements emphasized their cool and refreshing taste. The ads often showed nature, coldness, springtime, water, and other refreshing qualities. The tobacco industry also targeted “beginner” smokers, smokers with health concerns, and certain population groups. Many people chose menthol cigarettes because they believed they were safer than non-menthol cigarettes. They are not.