The city of San Francisco recently joined other cities like Oakland and Chicago to implement policy changes that positively impact the health of African Americans by passing Proposition E. In 2009 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had the opportunity to address this issue at the national level, but did not. The citizens of San Francisco took a stand by voting in favor of the proposition to ban all flavored tobacco, including menthol.

50% of Big Tobacco’s loyal customers are killed by using the product. Big Tobacco actively pursues swaying youth to use its products – enticing them with candy flavored (e.g. peppermint, strawberry and Fruit Loops) tobacco product. Taking a first puff of this product ushers first time smokers down the road to life-long addiction. There is something sinister about enticing people, especially youth, to use a product that adversely affects their health, and ultimately their life.

African Americans are more likely to choose menthol-flavored tobacco, and as such Big Tobacco has targeted them through marketing campaigns – promoting the product as cool, as well as the cooling effect making the first puff easier to handle. Although African Americans attempt and want to quit smoking more often than other smokers, they tend to fail. The increased failure rates are due to menthol, which is much more difficult to quit.

“Some researchers have even found that people with high levels of melanin may be more susceptible to addiction because of the way nicotine metabolizes in the body. These could explain the lower success rates of African American quitters.”

Banning menthol will help improve the health of youth and African Americans who would be encouraged to quit. African American smokers have reported that if menthol were banned they would not switch to another product, but would quit smoking completely.

“What would a mass quit attempt in San Francisco look like? It would look like a reduction in the 45,000 Black lives lost each year to tobacco. It would look like a smoke-free generation who doesn’t grow up normalizing tobacco. It would look like a city of people who are perceptive enough to affirm that Black lives really matter.”

This is encouraging news because Black lives matter! The Colorado Black Health Collaborative was recently awarded a Menthol Grant which focuses on reducing the number of Black/African American smokers in Colorado, specifically the Denver-metro area.

Content captured from article written by LaTroya Hester – Black Body Health.

© 2015 Colorado Black Health Collaborative
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