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Campaign aimed at menthol-flavored tobacco marketing targeting Black communities

Posted at 4:14 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 17:36:55-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A statewide campaign called "It's Not Just" is aimed at menthol-flavored tobacco marketing that targets African American communities.

"What we know to be true is that 85 percent of Black People in this country smoke menthol, or mentholated tobacco products," said Rashawn Smalls, program manager for Advancing Tobacco Free Communities. "You go into the store, you find this colorful display of tobacco imagery, and it's attractive. So much so that its become so normal in our community."

This campaign along with the Tobacco Free Coalition of Erie and Niagara, seek to educate communities about how the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed menthol products to African Americans.

Especially in urban communities.

According to the CDC, tobacco companies have historically placed larger amounts of advertising in African American publications.

And although cigarette smoking has declined since 1964, there are disparities across groups defined by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

"[The tobacco industry] is driven by this notion of profit. And it just so happens that the people who are most vulnerable, they target specifically those populations," said Smalls.

In late April, the FDA announced it would ban menthol within the next year.

"45,000 Black people according to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, die every year as a result of tobacco-related illnesses," said Smalls.

According to the CDC, research shows that menthol cigarettes may be more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes.

You can access free services through the New York State Quit Line: (866) 697-8487.

You'll have access to professional coaching, nicotine replacement therapy, nicotine gum and other resources to help you quit.