May 15th is No Menthol Sunday, an annual initiative by The Center for Black Health & Equity (The Center), which mobilizes faith-based organizations to share information on the deadly impact of menthol-flavored tobacco on Black communities and encourage conversations around it. Because the tobacco industry has strategically and aggressively marketed menthol cigarettes to the Black community, about 85% of Black adult smokers use menthol cigarettes compared to 29% of White smokers. Menthol makes it easier to start using tobacco and harder to quit, which explains why African American smokers are less successful at quitting and more likely to die of tobacco-related illnesses than White smokers. Tobacco-related illnesses are Black Americans’ number one killer, claiming up to 45,000 lives annually.
On April 28th, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a long-awaited ban on the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars. This is a big win for public health, but the fight is far from over. The proposed ban will likely face lawsuits from the tobacco industry, making it years before menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars are off the shelves due to federal regulation. In anticipation of the tobacco industry’s fight against the menthol ban, The Center has called for No Menthol Sunday to be more than a day of observance . With its theme, “Bold Awareness: Fight to the Finish”, No Menthol Sunday is an important opportunity to maintain momentum until menthol-flavored cigarettes and flavored cigars are no longer available to addict the next generation. For more information visit www.nomentholsunday.org. To learn more about The Center for Black Health & Equity, visit www.centerforblackhealth.org
For more information on the deadly impact of menthol on Black Americans, youth, and other at-risk communities, visit the Tobacco-Free NYS “It’s Not Just” site, www.notjustmenthol.org.