People who smoke menthol cigarettes are twice as likely to suffer a stroke compared to those who puff regular varieties, according to a new study.

Data collected from 5,167 smokers in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2001 and 2008, found the risk of stroke in menthol smokers was 2.25 times higher than regular smokers.

Women and non-African American smokers were at even greater risk - 3.28 times and 3.48 times more prone to strokes respectively - according to ScienceDaily.

The results will come as a surprise to many New Zealanders who believe smoking menthol is a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes.


A study published last year in the Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health revealed a high level of misconception among smokers in New Zealand about the effects of menthol cigarettes.

Results showed that a belief in the idea that menthol cigarettes are less harmful was significantly higher in smokers who were older, Maori, Pacific, Asian and financially stressed.

New Zealand Smokefree Coalition director Prudence Stone says it's important to be skeptical of an industry that flavours tobacco products as a recruitment strategy.

"The sad thing about menthol and other flavoured cigarettes is the industry's push to encourage young people to pick up smoking."

Putting flavours, sugar and other additives into tobacco products makes them more palatable, despite the health risks, making them extra dangerous, she says.

Despite the findings, experts agree that all cigarettes are dangerous and associated health risks should not be overlooked.

"There is no 'good' cigarette type," lead researcher, Dr Nicholas Vozoris, told USA Today.

"Smoking any kind of cigarette is bad for one's health, and serves to increase one's risk for a variety of cancers, heart diseases and lung diseases. However, this study shows that smoking mentholated cigarettes may place one at even higher risk for stroke than smoking regular, non-mentholated cigarettes."