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Papers of the Week

Papers: 24 Sep 2022 - 30 Sep 2022


2022 Sep 28

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities

Pain and Menthol Use Are Related to Greater Nicotine Dependence Among Black Adults Who Smoke Cigarettes at Wave 5 (2018-2019) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study.



Burdens related to pain, smoking/nicotine dependence, and pain-smoking comorbidity disproportionately impact Black Americans, and menthol cigarette use is overrepresented among Black adults who smoke cigarettes. Menthol may increase nicotine exposure, potentially conferring enhanced acute analgesia and driving greater dependence. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to examine associations between pain, menthol cigarette use, and nicotine dependence. Data was drawn from Black adults who were current cigarette smokers (n = 1370) at Wave 5 (2018-2019) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. Nicotine dependence was assessed using the Wisconsin Inventory of Smoking Dependence Motives. ANCOVA revealed that moderate/severe pain (vs. no/low pain) was associated with greater overall nicotine dependence (p < .001) and greater negative reinforcement, cognitive enhancement, and affiliative attachment smoking motives (ps < .001). Menthol smokers with moderate/severe pain also endorsed greater cigarette craving and tolerance, compared to non-menthol smokers with no/low pain (ps < .05). Findings support the notion that among Black individuals who smoke cigarettes, the presence of moderate/severe pain (vs. no/low pain) and menthol use may engender greater physical indices of nicotine dependence relative to non-menthol use. Compared to no/low pain, moderate/severe pain was associated with greater emotional attachment to smoking and greater proclivity to smoke for reducing negative affect and enhancing cognitive function. Clinical implications include the need to address the role of pain and menthol cigarette use in the assessment and treatment of nicotine dependence, particularly among Black adults. These data may help to inform evolving tobacco control policies aimed at regulating or banning menthol tobacco additives.