Research Portfolio

Funding Opportunities

Join our Mailing List
Join our mailing list to be notified of new funding opportunities.

Your Email

To receive information about funding opportunities, events, and program updates.

African Americans and Mentholated Cigarettes

Institution: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science
Investigator(s): Bruce Allen, DrPH
Award Cycle: 1999 (Cycle 8) Grant #: 8RT-0091H Award: $417,968
Subject Area: Nicotine Dependence
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
African American smokers have the highest rates of tobacco-related diseases and deaths. Heart disease, a tobacco-related condition and the leading cause of death in the United States, was 38% higher in African American men than in white men and 83% greater than for all men during 1990-92.

We think that African Americans have this higher rate of tobacco-related diseases and deaths for several reasons. The percentage of smoking is high, especially among men, and they prefer menthol cigarettes that are high in nicotine and tar. And although they smoke fewer cigarettes per day, on average, studies have found that African Americans take in more nicotine from each cigarette that they smoke than do whites. Thus, each cigarette is potentially more poisonous. Additionally, African Americans have more cases of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and lung cancer, all of which may be aggravated by, or caused by, cigarette smoking.

Prior studies on African Americans and how the body gets rid of nicotine were done retrospectively; were limited to very small numbers of people in clinical settings; and they did not test for differences between menthol and non-menthol cigarette smokers in African Americans. Consequently, we will study a large, personally recruited, convenience sample of young adult African Americans. This will help us to gain a better understanding of the effects of smoking menthol cigarettes as measured by the amount of cotinine (a byproduct of nicotine) and carbon monoxide in the saliva and breath of smokers. Because the size of a smoker’s body effects the rate of nicotine metabolism, we will take height and weight measurements. This study is relevant and responsive to the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program’s research priorities described as epidemiological research and nicotine addiction and its treatment.

This study is designed to recruit a total of 400 cigarette smokers. Approximately 200 African American males and females between 18 and 40 years old who smoke menthol cigarettes will be compared with a similar group of non-menthol cigarette smokers. The two groups will be recruited from several sites throughout the South Central Los Angeles community. Each person will complete a questionnaire about their age, education, employment, income, smoking habit, and provide saliva and breath samples for testing. Additionally, we will measure the height and weight of all study participants.

This proposed research project is designed to study smokers under normal conditions (as they usually smoke) and tests will be done to determine the levels of cotinine and carbon monoxide in their bodies. We believe that this study will provide powerful new information about the potentially greater harmful effects of smoking menthol cigarettes among African Americans.