Churches and faith leaders push for ban on menthol products
A nationwide movement to stop smoking on Sundays, “NO Mentol Sunday” is being led by churches and faith leaders who are focused on the cigarette most prevalent in the Black community: menthol cigarettes.
On ‘No Menthol Sundays,” faith leaders around the nation are using their services to encourage congregations to swear off menthol-related products for the day, the week, or longer. Faith leaders want their congregations to know the dangers of menthol cigarettes and the health damage it does, especially within the Black community.
They also want to educate their members. Because of the strategy that’s used by the tobacco company against Blacks and the way they have conducted targeted marketing of their product for decades to Black consumers, menthol is the product of choice for over 85 percent of Black smokers. In addition to their minty taste, menthols are as much as 50 cents cheaper per pack in urban versus suburban and rural areas.
Studies have shown that menthol cigarettes kill Black Americans at a disproportionately higher rate than other Americans. Researchers looked at 22 years’ worth of data and found that Black smokers, who are often the targets of advertising, suffered 1.6 million more smoking-related deaths compared to white smokers.
Many feel that educational campaigns within the community are needed as lawsuits to get the FDA to ban tobacco companies that have targeted menthol ad campaigns toward black smokers have been slow to move.
The hope is that churches nationwide will preach against the minty-flavored products and get their members to think about the serious health risks they are exposing themselves to and consider not lighting up their next menthol cigarette.
Refusing to wait on the federal government to act, the Center for Black Health and Equity says localities instituting their own local bans. Over 190 cities and towns have passed restrictions or outright bans on menthol sales since 2013. Center for Black Health and Equity Executive Director Delmonte Jefferson said, “We’re not waiting on them, we can’t wait on them. That’s how come we keep advocating at the local level and at the state level. To ban the sale of mentholated tobacco products. Because we can’t ban menthol, because that’s something only the FDA can do.”
For more information on No Mentol Sunday, visit their website: www.nomentholsunday.org/