Saturday, March 27, 2010

#10 Blacks and Menthol

Why do Black people like menthol (cigarettes), ask Dave Chappelle on “I Know Black People”. The contestants said they did not know, which turned out to be the correct answer. Chappelle said, ‘nobody knows’. Well, I may have dug up the answer in a 1979 study by RJReynolds (here).

It seems that before the introduction of light cigarettes, Black folks conjured up the notion that menthol was less hazardous to your health, compared to White smokers. Of course, this was not true, but the belief supported a behavior whereby Blacks, as 12% of the population, accounted for 80% of the menthol cigarettes consumed.

The original idea of flavored cigarettes seems to come from figuring out what to do with the remnant tobacco that was below usable grade. They flavored it and sold it cheap, and discovered that Blacks thought this product tasted better and did not burn the throat. The ‘more healthy’ label came later.

Interestingly, President Obama, a smoker himself, signed into law, in 2009, a bill that restricts advertising and fruit-flavors in cigarettes, but ‘grandfathered’ menthol cigarettes as legal (here). So we can thank or blame him for the lasting effects of menthol on the Black community. The CDC reports that the smoking-related cancer death rate for Black men is 38% higher, per 1000, than for White men (here).

There you have it – entertainment aside, if you smoke, please give those damn things up already, before they kill you. You too, Mr. Barry.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

It's a start. The problem is that the cigarette industry is such a huge money maker.
My thoughts are that cigarette smoking should not be so glamourized in the media. It really should be outlawed entirely. If a person wants to smoke, they would be better off smoking the pure unadulterated tobacco leaf without all the added chemicals. the chemicals are what causes the cancers. Perhaps if they showed images of the emphesema patients and their sufferings as well as the mouth and throat cancers caused by cigarettes,it would definitely deter some from burning their lungs and airways.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Yea, these things really are coffin nails. I smoked for 35 years and smoked Newports (ports) the last 10. Had a black buddy who, whenever he wanted to bum a smake would walk up to me and say "gimme one of those negro cigarettes."

Cigarette smoking is the worse addiction there is. I've quit a lot of things and cigs were the absolute hardest thing to conquer.
My wife said that if I ever start again, she'd divorce me if I quit cause she aint puttin up with that again.

Anonymous said...

Indeed Sagacious, I hope you are exempt from the consequences of all those years. I smoked very little and stil I have suffered some damage. Thank God you were able to quit, I'm still trying to convince ny brother in the states.

Anonymous said...

ummm black people didn't decide that these cigarettes were more healthy, the industry did. You definitely need some more research to back up these claims.