The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a plan that would set in motion the ban of menthol flavor from cigarettes. The plan could take several years to implement and the FDA says they are only in the beginning stages. According to information known to the public, the plan only covers cigarettes and not other products like vape pens or chewing tobacco. A key point made in an article from NBC News is that the ban is in the works to improve the health of black Americans.
Menthol is not an addictive substance like nicotine. Nor is it harmful like the actual smoke from tobacco which is what primarily damages the lungs. It is simply a flavor that makes cigarettes more enjoyable to smoke due to it’s minty cooling effect. The thought process here from the FDA and CDC is probably that black people tend to smoke the Newport brand of cigarettes. So to improve their health specifically, the solution is to ban menthol. Alcohol is also an issue among the black community, so maybe they’ll ban another stereotypical thing like 40oz bottles of beer?
According to the article, 85% of black smokers smoke menthol-flavored cigarettes. Numbers for white and Hispanic smokers were not given. The CDC contradicts the article from NBC News and places black smokers’ use of menthol at around 77% compared to 35% for Hispanics and 25% for whites. Once this is all added up, there are about 930,000 thousand smokers in the United States who use menthol-flavored cigarettes. Out of the grand total of menthol users, there are 230,000 black smokers.
There are at least two health issues among blacks in America more important than menthol cigarettes. The first one is black-on-black violence. Black Americans are 13% of the US population yet they commit 52% of the murders and are 48% of the murder victims. The second is the epidemic of obesity. This leads to debilitating diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, liver failure, and the list goes on. Death from lung cancer caused by smoking Newports pales in comparison to both of those statistics.
So why are menthol cigarettes singled out? Easy. They are low-hanging fruit just like police brutality. A person can claim to be a champion for the poor black man while ignoring the elephant in the room. This allows them to be virtuous without being labeled as a racist.