Faith Communities Come Together to Address the Public Health Crisis Caused by Menthol Cigarettes and Other Flavored Tobacco Products
The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) encourages all African American congregations and spiritual institutions to come together on Sunday, May 21, for No Menthol Sunday. No Menthol Sunday is the African American expression of the World Health Organization’s, international World No Tobacco Day, an annual opportunity to address the devastating impact of tobacco use on Black communities. This year’s campaign theme, “Focus on Victory, Go Against the Grain,” emphasizes the need to stand against the predatory tobacco industry and create healthier, more just communities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use can cause a range of illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other diseases, as well as a decrease in overall quality of life. The California Health Interview Survey found that a staggering 47.7% of African American/Black adults who smoke use menthol cigarettes, compared to only 16.5% of white adults. Through No Menthol Sunday, this health disparity is addressed as religious/spiritual congregants and community members across California are informed about the harms of smoking, vaping, and the role of menthol and other flavors. It also provides an opportunity for the community to support individuals who smoke to embark on a new journey toward quitting.
“The pandemic has exposed and amplified health disparities among African Americans, especially when it comes to smoking-related deaths. This highlights the importance of individuals prioritizing their health and taking action, such as quitting smoking,” said Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the AATCLC. “Join us on No Menthol Sunday and everyday as we come together to fight against this preventable health crisis. We must go against the grain and continue to stand up for our well-being to create a healthier future for ourselves and our communities.”
The AATCLC and the African American Statewide Coordinating Center, AMPLIFY, hosted a virtual kick-off event earlier this month to equip faith leaders across the state with the knowledge and tools needed to educate their congregants on the harmful effects of tobacco use for No Menthol Sunday. Esteemed panelists discussed policy, law enforcement, and cessation strategies surrounding commercial tobacco’s impact on Black communities. Despite the progress made since the Food & Drug Administration initiated the rule-making process to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, the tobacco industry has continued to introduce new non-menthol products that still pose significant health risks.
No Menthol Sunday serves as a reminder to prioritize Black health and well-being. By raising awareness of the dangers of all tobacco products, including the new non-menthol flavors, African Americans can make informed decisions about health and advocate for comprehensive regulations and policies that prioritize public health and prevent the tobacco industry from targeting marginalized groups even further. Find out how to get involved at savingblacklives.org/nomentholsunday.
For more information and resources that help Californians kick smoking, vaping, and smokeless tobacco with the help of proven, science-based strategies, visit KickItCA.org or download the app.