The Food and Drug Administration is moving to ban menthol cigarettes. That means no more Newports. No more Kools. No more smokes for Black folks.
Because here’s the thing. Menthol cigarettes are specifically marketed to Black people. I know because when I smoked cigarettes, they were menthols, just like they were for everybody in our community.
We didn’t read the study from Yale that said Menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than cigarettes without menthol because they reduce the body’s protective responses to cigarette smoke. And we probably wouldn’t have cared anyway.
But we should care about our health. So, along with the NAACP, I say go ahead and ban menthol cigarettes. Maybe it’s save Black lives.
But other Black leaders, like Rev. Al Sharpton attorney Ben Crump, say we should not move forward–yet.
“We have not said we opposed it, what we said was we’d like to see a study, a commission to study how they deal with the unintended consequences before they impose a ban,” Sharpton said in an interview with The Hill.
“This is how her son got killed,” Sharpton said, referring to Eric Garner’s mother.
Garner, you’ll recall, was confronted by cops in Staten Island New York over selling loose cigarettes. One of them put him in a chokehold and he died.
Sharpton told The Hill, “If a policeman sees a guy standing on the corner smoking a Kool, he’s asking ‘Where did you get that from?’ and that will lead to interaction.”And that could lead to death. Sadly, Sharpton’s right. And that makes me angry, because no other community has to think about things like that. Has to put every idea under the lens of tragedy. Has to look at the possibility of being hurt by the law.
On the one hand, I hate to think that way. But if it saves Black lives, I’m glad I do.
Photo: Cigarette Pack By. Lindsay Fox