Black Health Experts Renew Fight Against Menthol CigarettesAs I asked late last year when Slate.com published its piece on the subject, why is noticing this stereotype acceptable, yet noticing that blacks are more violent than whites is a cause for a moral panic?
By Sabrina Tavernise September 13, 2016
WASHINGTON — Menthol cigarettes account for about a third of all cigarettes sold in the United States, and they are particularly popular among black smokers — about four out of five report smoking them, according to federal surveys.
The effects are devastating: About 45,000 African-Americans die each year from smoking-related illnesses — the largest cause of preventable death, more than homicides, AIDS and car accidents. Black men have the highest lung cancer mortality rate of any demographic group.
Three years ago, the Food and Drug Administration seemed poised to take action. It said research showed that the mint flavoring made it easier to start smoking and harder to quit, meaning that the substance harmed public health, a finding that activists and experts believed laid the groundwork for banning menthol.
But nothing has happened, and on Tuesday, a group of African-American activists and health experts made an appeal to President Obama, arguing that the issue was not only one of health, but also of social justice. …
Menthol has a long history among African-Americans. Valerie Yerger, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied the tobacco industry, said documents showed that cigarette companies targeted low-income, African-American neighborhoods.
She said Lorillard, the maker of Newport, the most popular menthol brand, ordered its sales representatives in the 1980s to “stay out of the suburbs and go into tough inner-city neighborhoods.”