Tobacco Companies Pushed Deadly Menthol Products on Black Smokers. That Could End Soon
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By Alexa Spencer, Word in Black
After decades of targeting — and numerous premature deaths — the FDA is considering banning the products from the market.
Newports, Kools, Camels. Menthol cigarette brands like these have gone unregulated for over a decade, even as other flavored cigarettes have been banned from the market for their addictive qualities. In turn, Black folks — who were targeted by tobacco companies to use menthol products — suffer from cigarette addiction and premature death at staggering rates.
But that could change if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moves forward with it’s proposal to ban menthol cigarettes for good.
The potential ban comes after years of research revealing the effects of menthol — a mint-derived flavor additive that can be natural or synthetic — on smokers. According to the FDA, menthol makes cigarettes more appealing due to its minty taste and smell, and its cooling effect on the throat.
Not only has the flavoring been associated with smoking among youth, but due to its painkilling and addictive properties, it also makes quitting the habit more difficult.
This means more life-long consumers for the tobacco industry while those buyers live shorter, more medically-complicated lives — especially in the Black community.
Nearly 85% of Black people who smoke use menthol cigarettes, compared to 30% of white smokers.
And according to a study published by the National Journal of Medicine, while Black people make up only 12% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 41% of premature deaths from menthol cigarettes between 1980 and 2018.
Frustratingly, Black media were left out of U.S. Justice Department efforts to curb smoking.
Check out ABHM’s breaking news page.
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