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Recently, the Biden Administration and FDA took a historic action to begin the process of prohibiting menthol tobacco and flavored cigars! The announcement is being celebrated by health advocates and others across the country and will help address historic injustices related to menthol and other flavored tobacco.
One of the leaders involved in bringing about that action by the FDA, Carol McGruder, a national tobacco prevention leader and co-chair of the African American Tobacco Leadership Council, brought her message to Wisconsin recently to help kick off No Menthol Sunday 2021.
“The exclusion of menthol was not based on science,” she said.
McGruder called menthol and social justice and human rights issue.
“We have not been afforded the protection we deserve against the predatory actions of the tobacco industry,” she said that day.
Mayor Tom Barrett, who joined her for the kickoff, also discussed the impact of menthol on the community.
“For too long, menthol and other flavored tobacco products have harmed the health of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Barrett said.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes also spoke out about menthol that day.
“The FDA has made flavored vapor products illegal, but they have made an exception for menthol,” Barnes said prior to the recent announcement.
Barrett was joined at the kickoff event by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin DHS Secretary of Health Designee Karen Timberlake, youth and faith leaders, emcee Vivian King, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Rep. Dora Drake, Sen. Latonya Johnson and Rep. Sheila Stubbs, chair of Wisconsin’s Legislative Black Caucus.
Smoking kills 45,000 African Americans a year and is a major contributor to their leading causes of death: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The most commonly used tobacco product among African Americans is menthol cigarettes. In fact, 9 out of 10 Black smokers in Wisconsin smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 4 in 10 white smokers in the state. Menthol is a peppermint flavored anesthetic tobacco companies added to reduce the harshness of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The theme of No Menthol Sunday 2021 is “A New Day,” and represents a renewed opportunity to build tobacco-free communities that are healthy and just and advocate for a healthier future that makes menthol and tobacco-related disease a thing of the past. “A New Day,” is now even closer thanks to the hard work of McGruder and other advocates, including members of the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network.