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No Menthol Sunday Aims to Reverse Decades of Damage from Tobacco Industry's Targeted Marketing to Blacks

Left: A Kool cigarettes advertisement targeting Black communities for a sponsored event, the <em>Kool Jazz Festival</em>; Right: A Newport cigarettes ad targeting young Black customers.
Stanford Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising

The idea is to get churches involved in anti-smoking efforts

No Menthol Sunday — it’s this weekend, May 15. It was started several years ago by the Center for Black Health and Equity to highlight the harm done to Black people by menthol cigarettes. The idea is to get churches involved in anti-smoking efforts.

The Center’s Delmonte Jefferson said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helps to maximize the impact of No Menthol Sundays.

“They heavy up ads in certain markets that we let them know, that we know, where there’s gonna be some No Menthol Sunday activity, and churches are gonna be engaged,” he said, “and so you get more of those ads about those Tips commercials that says “Call the quit line.”

In the 1950s, less than 10% of Black smokers smoked menthol cigarettes. After decades of targeted marketing that number is 85%.

Jefferson explained how you can get involved.

“You can engage in, become a part of a coalition that’s trying to ban the sale of mentholated tobacco products in your communities or in your county or in your city or state, so you can become part of that coalition at a church,” he said.

Jefferson said this year presents a unique opportunity.

“On April 28 of this year the FDA announced a proposed rule for banning mentholated tobacco products. Well, what you can do is as a congregation you can submit comments. There’s a comment period open right now, it’s gonna go on till July 5,” he said.

The tobacco industry has marketed menthol cigarettes to Blacks by cutting the price in Black neighborhoods, giving out free samples, and sponsoring events like the Kool Jazz Festival.