“I don’t believe the lie the tobacco companies try to sell me.”
About Menthol: Easier to start, harder to quit.
Tobacco companies add menthol to tobacco products to cool the throat and make them taste better.
The tobacco industry has used menthol flavors to racially segment and target certain customers, especially Black Americans, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities, and youth. Menthol gives a cooling sensation and masks tobacco’s harshness, making it easier to start smoking and harder to quit, especially among African American smokers.
Learn about the lawsuit against the Food & Drug Administration for failure to protect African Americans from the harms of tobacco here.
See the letter from all the health organizations supporting the lawsuit here.
The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting the African American community, women, LGBTQ, and youth with menthol tobacco marketing.
Tobacco companies began heavily targeting African Americans with menthol cigarettes in the 1960s.
Brands such as Salem and Newport would give out free packs of menthol cigarettes from vans. Tobacco industry documents show these vans targeted young, lower-income, black smokers at “retail outlets, currency exchanges/check cashing stations, public aid offices, large housing complexes, shopping malls, rapid transit locations, busy street corners, and nightclubs/bars.” — RJ Reynolds, 1989
AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM TOBACCO EXECUTIVES:
“We don’t smoke that s***. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid.”
— RJ Reynolds Executive, 1971
“…the base of our business is the high school student.”
— Lorillard (Makers of Newport), 1978
Removing menthol and flavored tobacco from the marketplace will address health disparities caused by Big Tobacco’s lethal tactics. Racism is a public health crisis. Clearing the market of menthol and all flavored products will directly improve the health of Black communities and other groups targeted by Big Tobacco.
Communities across Minnesota are working to protect youth and other targeted groups by enacting flavored tobacco restrictions. Minneapolis and Saint Paul led the way in Minnesota in passing policies that prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol. Now, there are 16 Minnesota communities that have restricted or ended the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol. Communities across Minnesota are working to protect youth and other targeted groups by ending the sale of flavored and menthol tobacco.
The Menthol Coalition is a coalition of health and community organizations in Minnesota committed to reducing the harm caused by menthol-flavored cigarettes and other tobacco products. We share a common goal of working to reduce the harm caused by menthol tobacco. Join us for our regular meetings to learn about opportunities to advocate for clearing the market of menthol tobacco.
Who we are: See a list of our current members here.
Join the Menthol Coalition by filling out our membership form here.