Last week, The New York Times released a groundbreaking article highlighting the inequities in the tobacco industry and Black Americans. More specifically, the extent to which menthol cigarettes have been aggressively marketed toward Black Americans and the momentum nationwide to enact a ban on menthol cigarettes. These health disparities need to be addressed in order to promote racial equity and protect lives.
The growing popularity of menthol cigars and cigarillos among Black teenagers is cause for concern. According to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the federal government, nearly 6.5 percent of Black students in high school and middle school smoked cigars and cigarillos, compared with 2.5 percent who smoked traditional cigarettes. Eighty five percent of all Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 29 percent of white smokers. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans, claiming 45,000 lives each year.
As a National Youth and Young Adult Ambassador with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, I strongly urge President Biden and our representatives in Congress to support banning menthol cigarettes. Our communities deserve better, and it is up to us to do everything we can to combat the harmful effects that menthol has on our loved ones and friends in the place we call home.