Derrick Milan is a Detroit-based choir director and community leader who encourages others to quit smoking and join the fight against menthol. Milan is a former smoker and acknowledges the difficulty involved in quitting smoking, but wants everyone to know that it is possible.
How has menthol affected you?
I lost a lot of friends due to smoking, which caused cancer. I have a lot of family members and friends that didn’t make it. My encouragement to anybody who’s listening to me is to stop. I know it’s a hard process, get help, get counseling, and encourage other people around you to stop because we are losing a lot of people in our culture to smoking. It’s a bad habit and what enters the body is going to show sooner or later.
Why do you believe in ending menthol?
We learned in church that the body is a temple. You should protect your temple and be mindful of what you put into it. Smoking breaks down the body. End menthol nationwide.
What is the impact of being exposed to secondhand smoke?
When I walk through secondhand smoke, my clothes smell like it, you smell like it, your hair smells like it. I don’t like to go through secondhand smoke. Of course, a lot of family members smoke, so it happens, but I’ll go home and take a shower or a bath to get the smoke off because that’s not cool.
How do you feel about cigarette companies specifically targeting the Black community?
I think it ought to be looked into and I think the government should get behind it. I’m sure the statistics show that our community is dying from this every day in the hundreds and thousands. It affects not only you, but your family, your children, your mother, your father, all of us in our community.