The Food and Drug Administration want to snuff out menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars which are popular with Blacks, but they have a strong supporter in Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network.
Xavier Becerra, Health and Human Services Secretary, said the proposed rule change would prevent children from smoking and help adult smokers quit.
Menthol is a flavor additive with minty aroma and taste that reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking. Advertising for menthol cigarettes is heavily marketed to African Americans, such as Kool and Newport.
My mother smoked Kools, as she called them, until she died of cancer.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of death among Blacks because it leads to heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
The New York Times reported that Sharpton wrote to Susan Rice, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, that banning menthol cigarettes will encourage Blacks to smoke unregulated herbal menthol varieties that promote criminal activity.
Sharpton acknowledges that R.J. Reynolds, which changed its name to RAI Service Company, has supported his organization for two decades.
“This is an overdue step towards ending decades of racialized tobacco industry predation on African Americans! Each year 45,000 African Americans lose their lives to tobacco-inducted diseases due in large part to menthol tobacco products,” said Carol McGruder of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.
The organization will host its third annual National Menthol Conference on September 28th to the 30th at the Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C.
If the proposed rule is finalized and implemented, it would address manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers, and retailers who manufacture and distribute the products in the U.S.