Smokers who have their first cigarette shortly after waking, an indicator of nicotine dependence, have substantially higher cotinine levels. There is controversy regarding the role of menthol in nicotine dependence. We hypothesized that menthol smokers have a shorter time to first cigarette (TTFC), and tested whether any statistical association actually reflects increased dependence by measuring nicotine uptake (e.g. cotinine) in the same group of smokers. A cross-sectional community-based study was conducted that included 495 black and white daily cigarette smokers. Results showed a trend between menthol smoking and a shorter TTFC (P< 0.04 in blacks). Menthol was not an independent predictor of cotinine or an effect modifier with TTFC on cotinine levels in blacks and whites. These results show that while menthol in tobacco is associated with an indicator of nicotine dependence in blacks, menthol was not associated with biological uptake of nicotine in black and white smokers.
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