Behavioural intentions in response to a potential menthol cigarette sales ban: a survey examining smokers in Washington, DC public housing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMJ open








epidemiology; health policy; public health


OBJECTIVES: Local, national and international policies are being proposed to ban the sale of menthol-flavoured tobacco products. With more bans being implemented, it is increasingly important to understand reactions to these bans among smokers of low socioeconomic status. This study examined public housing residents' behavioural intentions if menthol-flavoured cigarettes were no longer sold. SETTING: 15 District of Columbia Housing Authority properties between March 2019 and March 2021. PARTICIPANTS: 221 District of Columbia Housing Authority residents ages 18-80 years who reported smoking menthol cigarettes (83.3% African-American/black). PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES: Cigarette quitting and switching intentions due to a hypothetical menthol-flavoured cigarette sales ban. RESULTS: Nearly one-half (48.0%) of residents said they intended to quit cigarette use if menthol-flavoured products were no longer sold, while 27.2% were unsure if they would quit, and 24.9% reported they would not quit. Older residents (OR 0.94 per year, 95% CI 0.91 to 0.97), senior/disabled building versus family building residents (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.97), those who smoked within 30 min of waking (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.98) and daily smokers (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.84) had lower odds of reporting quit intentions associated with a menthol ban. Of those not intending to quit, 40.7% reported they would switch to non-menthol cigarettes, 20.4% to another non-menthol product, 13.0% to menthol e-cigarettes and 20.4% to another menthol product. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest banning the sale of menthol-flavoured products has the potential to impact cigarette smoking cessation. Nearly three-quarters of smokers in public housing indicated a possibility of quitting smoking because of a menthol cigarette ban. Bans that include all flavours in all tobacco products may be most effective for facilitating overall tobacco cessation.