Health advocates are urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, reports WGBO. The FDA issued draft measures to ban menthol in April 2022. Final regulations are expected later this year.
“Menthol is an analgesic; it numbs the throat, so it lets the poison go down easier,” said Carol McGruder, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “It dilates the alveoli in the lungs, the little sacs in your lungs, and so it allows the toxins to stay longer and deeper in the lungs.”
Lincoln Mondy made a documentary called Black Lives/Black Lungs about the marketing of menthol cigarettes to Black communities, something many have pointed out as a trend in tobacco marketing.
“We say predatory because it was indeed predatory; they went in neighborhoods like Detroit and New York and majority Black neighborhoods and gave out free cigarettes. They just handed out free cigarettes; they drove up in Newport vans and Kool vans and handed out free cigarettes,” Mondy said.
As a result of this “predatory” marketing, 85 percent of Black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes. Some states like California passed laws banning flavors. However, McGruder says that the industry is still finding ways around such bans.
“They’ve already introduced new products that have some chemicals in there that mimic menthol, but they’re not menthol, and they’re actually on the market right now in California, and so now we have to deal with that, and so, the industry will never stop. They are going to continue to recruit their new smokers to replace the folks who are dying,” McGruder said.