Finally, the day has come. Menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products will no longer be sold in stores. The new law stops Big Tobacco from targeting the Black community with its deadly products, predatory product discounts, and manipulative messaging – all in the name of profit. The statewide policy is a huge step toward protecting the lives of our community.
Big Tobacco knowingly sentences us to lifetimes of sickness, disease, and early death.* They don’t see our beauty, our individuality, or our rich history – only how rich we can make them.
A joint investigation has learned that Newport cigarette maker Reynolds American has hired Black lobbyists and influenced grass-roots groups to help fan fears among Black communities about menthol bans.
This exploitation is most apparent when considering the wildly disproportionate usage of menthol cigarettes among Black Americans. For decades now, the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed menthol products to Black communities.
Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement have put new pressure on Congress and the White House to reduce racial health disparities. And there are few starker examples than this: Black smokers smoke less but die of heart attacks, strokes and other causes linked to tobacco use at higher rates than white smokers do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Big Tobacco has mercilessly targeted African Americans since the 1960s with the heavy marketing of menthol cigarettes. In California, 70 percent of African American adults who smoke consume menthol cigarettes compared to just 18 percent of white adults who smoke.
Tobacco kills. That’s no secret. But Big Tobacco’s insidious marketing tactics use menthol-flavored products to keep African Americans — and especially young people — hooked on tobacco. It’s time we protect our children and communities by cutting Big Tobacco off at the source.