Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Hawaiʻi Department of Health Provides Resources to Quit Tobacco Ahead of Potential Nationwide Sales Ban of Menthol Cigarettes


The CDC estimates that if menthol cigarettes were no longer available, an estimated 4,400 adults in Hawai‘i who smoke would quit smoking. The Hawaiʻi Tobacco Quitline is ready to help with free and confidential quit resources.

Federal efforts to ban the sale of menthol as a flavor in cigarettes have been underway for more than 10 years, and those efforts may come to fruition soon. The White House is expected to make a final decision on the proposed federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule in March. If passed, the rule would prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes in the United States.

The tobacco industry has aggressively marketed menthol cigarettes to specific groups of people, including Native Hawaiians, for decades. And these tobacco industry tactics worked. The most recent cigarette-use data shows that nearly 87% of Native Hawaiians and 84% of Filipinos who smoke use menthol cigarettes. The tobacco industry also targets youth, young adults, women and LGBTQ+ populations with menthol marketing.

Tobacco companies add menthol to cigarettes, chew, and vapes to make it easier for people to get addicted to nicotine. Menthol creates a cooling effect in the lungs and throat when smoking. This makes it easier to inhale nicotine deeply, leading to larger hits of tobacco. These long, deep hits increase the amount of nicotine that goes into the body and increases the risk of addiction when compared to non-menthol cigarettes. New tobacco users usually start with menthol products because they’re less harsh and easier to inhale. Many smokers continue with menthol for the same reasons.

The menthol in cigarettes makes it more likely that youth and young adults will try smoking, and it increases chances that young people who start smoking cigarettes will continue to smoke on a regular basis. When high school students in Hawai‘i were asked if they had smoked menthol cigarettes in the past 30 days, just over half or 53.5% said yes in 2019.

“The Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline is ready to help people looking to quit cigarettes,” said Lola Irvin, Department of Health Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division Administrator. “The Quitline provides confidential counseling and free nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges to help people increase their chances of quitting tobacco and vaping.” To reach the Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669. You can also visit www.hawaiiquitline.org.

For teens, My Life, My Quit Hawai‘i is a free and confidential program with trained coaches to help those up to 17 years old quit smoking or vaping. To sign up, text “Start My Quit” to 36072 or call 1-855-891-9989. You can also visit www.MyLifeMyQuit.com.

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