Frontiers in the News: Why are menthol cigarettes more addictive?

Media coverage of research published in Frontiers
Menthol cigarettes appear to be more addictive and pose a greater health threat than unflavored tobacco, an FDA report says. The agency plans more studies and will ‘explore all potential options,’ reports the LA Times.
LA Times also features a Frontiers in Pharmacology review paper titled Not so cool? Menthol’s discovered actions on the nicotinic receptor and its implications for nicotine addiction that contributes to the mounting suspicion that adding menthol to tobacco causes it to behave differently in the human body.The paper, authored by Nadine I. Kabbani of George Mason University, focuses on menthol’s effects on the acetylcholine nicotinic receptors found throughout the body, including in the brain. It finds that menthol may directly promote nicotine craving because it binds to a particular type of nicotinic receptor within nerve cells, the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, and impairs its response to nicotine.

In the longer term, menthol seems to promote the expression of other nicotinic receptor genes in regions of the brain that process pleasure, reward, and addiction. Dr. Kabbani concludes that it is time to re-examine rules and regulations on menthol cigarettes.

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