April is Minority Health Month so one can expect a number of articles written on the FDA menthol issue. We print this one because it is representative of a major argument which is omitted from the proponents of a menthol ban. If one is interested in protecting the health of minorities, then an action should be taken to shield minorities from the onslaught of violence which would occur from organized crime cells operating primarily in their largest markets—minority populated areas– through the sale of contraband.
CRE discussed these points in its submission to TPSAC.
In addition CRE has posted the following analysis of the TPSAC report filed by Bloomberg News where they stated:
“Smokers don’t face more risks of tobacco-related disease from menthol cigarettes than unflavored cigarettes, a U.S. advisory panel says in a preliminary report.
“The evidence is insufficient” to conclude that menthol smokers face a different disease risk than people who use regular cigarettes, said advisers to the Food and Drug Administration.”
Again, the record demonstrates that a menthol ban will adversely affect the health of minorities.
La Tanisha C. Wright
Menthol is widely used in a number of products and features certain therapeutic qualities. However, the original purpose of menthol flavor in cigarettes was to reduce the harshness and mask the bitter taste of nicotine and the elements in smoke.
Menthol’s pleasant, minty, cooling sensation causes the user to inhale more deeply with each drag and intake a greater amount of smoke, toxic chemicals and carbon monoxide. Menthol allows for an effective dose of nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes
When President Barack Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009, it placed new restrictions on cigarette manufacturers, including labeling, advertising and flavored cigarettes.
However, menthol was excluded, which outraged many tobacco control advocates.
Approximately, 47,000 African-Americans die each year from tobacco use, and for many, the primary cause is smoking menthol cigarettes.
April is Minority Health Month, and the National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) is dedicated to advocate for the Food and Drug Administration to take the step to ban these “minty” killers from the marketplace.
The Tobacco Control Act grants the FDA authority to ban menthol cigarettes if found harmful to the health. Last month, an advisory panel to the FDA reported that although menthol cigarettes do not pose a greater risk to smokers in terms of specific smoking-related illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, among others, the “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit the public health.”
Minority community is target of advertising
The FDA advisory panel also reported that menthol cigarettes are far and away the choice of African-American adult smokers and, tragically, teens of all races. Over the past 50-plus years, the percentage of African-Americans smoking menthol cigarettes has increased from 5 percent in 1953, to 44 percent in 1976, to 83 percent in 2010.
For decades, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard have targeted African-American communities to market their mentholated brands Kool and Newport. The statistics, showing the increase of menthol smokers, show their efforts have paid off. The FDA panel also reported that menthol cigarettes led more people to become lifelong smokers — and made it harder for people to quit.
According to an American Lung Association report released in 2010, African-Americans have a higher occurrence of lung cancer than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation. Black men are 37 percent more likely to get lung cancer than white men, despite the fact that their smoking rates are similar — 25.5 percent for black men compared to 23.6 percent for white men.
April is the month for all minorities to consider tobacco’s effects. It is a “call to arms” to urge communities to adopt stronger tobacco-control programs; to encourage individuals to stop smoking — to talk with their physician about smoking-cessation products and prescription medications, along with support counsel; and to educate our youth about the dangers of smoking.
La Tanisha C. Wright is the national states director for NAATPN.