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Menthol cigarette use in substance use disorder treatment before and after implementation of a county-wide flavoured tobacco ban.



This study examined the impact of a San Francisco City and County ban on all flavoured tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, among clients in residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment.


We conducted cross-sectional surveys of clients at two residential SUD programmes before the County began enforcing the ban (n=160) and twice after enforcement began (n=102, n=120). The samples were compared on demographic characteristics, smoking status, smoking behaviours and the proportion reporting menthol as their usual cigarette. Menthol smokers were asked whether they smoked only menthol cigarettes, mostly menthol, both menthol and non-menthol or mostly non-menthol. Post-ban samples were asked about awareness of the ban and access to menthol cigarettes.


In multivariate analyses, we found no evidence that the ban was associated with decreased number of cigarettes per day or increased readiness to quit among current smokers. However, odds were lower post-ban for reporting menthol as the usual cigarette (OR=0.80, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.90), and for smoking only menthol cigarettes (OR=0.19, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.19). Perhaps most importantly, and with the ability to influence all other findings, 50% of self-identified menthol smokers reported purchasing menthol cigarettes in San Francisco nearly 1 year after the ban was implemented.


In subgroups where smoking has remained elevated, like those receiving SUD treatment, local menthol bans may have only modest impacts on smoking behaviour. Broader regional, state or national bans, that effectively restrict access to menthol products, may be needed to show stronger effects on smoking behaviour.

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