We all see them, large billboards on the side of neighborhood grocery stores and gas stations that advertise cigarettes. If you see them, rarely will you see anything other than menthol cigarettes. Why, because cigarette companies aggressively market brands like Kool, Salem and Newport to the African American community.

Historically, it is well documented that the tobacco industry has intentionally marketed and created mentholated brands to racial and ethnic minorities and youth. Cigarette companies have in the past distributed free cigarettes to young African Americans that reside in urban low-income housing, as well as targeted print ads in African American publications and sponsored urban music events

Research has demonstrated that individuals who smoke menthol cigarettes smokers are less likely to quit than non menthol smokers. Eighty percent of African-American who smoke cigarettes, smoke menthol brands. According to a 231-page report delivered by a scientific advisory panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, menthol smokers were 12 times more likely to have lung cancer than nonsmokers, whereas non-menthol smokers were 21 times more likely to have cancer.

Earlier this year, the FDA announced it is considering banning menthol cigarettes. Sign this petition to support the ban. The NAACP in concert with other public health organizations are calling on the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes given their increased health risks and the predatory marketing practiced used by tobacco companies. It would not be the first time given that in 2009, the FDA banned candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes after it was proven that they were marketed to children.

Cigarette companies aggressively market brands like Kool, Camel and Newport to African Americans, 80 percent of whom smoke menthols. A 2010 study called “What Menthol Smokers Would Do If Menthol Cigarettes Were No Longer Sold,” 39 percent of menthol smokers and 46.8 percent of African American menthol smokers report they would quit smoking if cigarettes were no longer sold. –torrance stephens, ph.d.

Torrance Stephen authors the blog rawdawgb.blogspot.com/, follow him on twitter https://twitter.com/rawdawgbuffalo.