conducted on people’s perceptions of them. In a recent study, Hymowitz and colleagues (1995) questioned 213 adult smokers of menthol cigarettes who participated in a stop-smoking study. Among 174 African Americans, the main reasons for smoking menthols included the following: menthol cigarettes tasted better than nonmenthol cigarettes (83%); they had always smoked menthol cigarettes (63%); menthol cigarettes were less harsh on the throat than nonmenthol cigarettes (52%); inhalation was easier with menthol cigarettes (48%); and menthol cigarettes could be inhaled more deeply (33%). Among 39 white smokers of menthol cigarettes, reasons for their choice of menthols included menthol cigarettes tasted better than nonmenthol cigarettes (74%); menthol cigarettes were more soothing to the throat (51%); they had always smoked menthol cigarettes (39%); and inhalation was easier with menthol cigarettes (21%).

An industry document (Tibor Koeves Associates, 1968) reports the results of in-depth interviews (most likely conducted in 1968) of 10 African-American smokers of menthol cigarettes. The authors of the report concluded that two underlying factors “generated the great enthusiasm for menthol cigarettes.” The preference for menthols seemed “based both on dynamic sensory and on psychological gratifications.” The taste of menthol, which reminded many of candy, was a major attraction. The fact that the smoke wasn’t hot or burning was also important. Psychologically, menthols were perceived to be modern and youthful. More relevant to this discussion, they were “considered as generally ‘better for one’s health.’” Most respondents viewed menthols as “less strong” than regular cigarettes, with the understanding among interviewees that cigarettes that were less strong were less dangerous to one’s health.


The introduction of products to reduce harm in a population can result in both intended and unintended consequences. Both Pauly and colleagues (1995) and Hughes (1998) raise the possibility that the introduction of PREPs and their promotion as less harmful ways to smoke could lead to increased initiation. Behavioral adaptation can occur in ways that diminish the possible beneficial consequences of potentially harm-reducing products. In this section, consideration is given to studies relating to the possible influence of low-yield products on initiation and quitting.


Arnett (1999) raised concerns that adolescents’ beliefs about claims made in advertisements for the no-additive products described earlier

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