On Thursday, June 18th, Elected officials and Tobacco Prevention Staff were invited to attended an informational breakfast on Menthol, hosted by Hennepin County Public Health and Breathe Free North. National speakers from the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council came to speak and share their expertise, years of research and policy experience on the topic.
Senator Jeff Hayden and Representative Rina Moran, both of Minneapolis (holding plaques), were recognized at the start of the program for their strong leadership and legislative efforts with the passage of the menthol study bill during the 2015 legislative session.
Guest speaker Dr. Phillip Gardiner noted how the tobacco industry’s 50 years of predatory targeting of inner-city, low income, and especially of African Americans, have led to a disproportionally large rise in the rate of menthol use. For each 10% increase of African American students, Newport cigarettes (a popular Menthol brand) are discounted 1.5 times greater in the area of that school. This is not by accident.
“Menthol makes the poison go down easier”, said Dr. Gardiner when talking about how menthol reduces the irritation of nicotine, allowing smokers to start younger and smoke longer. “Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, and menthol cigarettes have a large role to play in youth initiation”.
Over 9 million people will start smoking because of the availability of menthol in cigarettes, one-third of who will be African Americans.
- Currently 83% of U.S. African American Youth and 86% of African American Adults smoke Menthol cigarettes
- 70% of U.S. LGBTQ Youth smoke Menthol cigarettes
- 44% of all Minnesota Teens smoke Menthol cigarettes