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Kicking off Black History Month with our first #NoMentholMonday

Today marks the beginning of America’s 40th Black History Month. As part of the commemoration, Truth Initiative will explore how menthol products have been strategically marketed to African-Americans, and how the aggressive advertising of mentholated cigarettes has paid off in terms of brand recognition and preference in African-American communities.


70.5 percent of African American smokers use menthol cigarettes

Among middle and high school students, 70.5 percent of African American smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared to 51.4 percent of white smokers. And nearly eight out of every ten African American youth smokers smoke Newport cigarettes. While cigarette smoking has declined among all adolescents, menthol smoking rates remained constant in youth aged 12-17 from 2004–2010; among all young adults aged 18-25, the percentage who smoked non-menthol cigarettes also declined, while menthol smoking rates increased.

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that menthol cigarettes are associated with increased smoking initiation among youth and young adults, greater addiction, and decreased success in quitting smoking. The FDA concluded that, “these findings, combined with the evidence indicating that menthol’s cooling and anesthetic properties can reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke and the evidence indicating that menthol cigarettes are marketed as a smoother alternative to non-menthol cigarettes, make it likely that menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes.”

Each Monday in February will be #NoMentholMonday, an opportunity to explore the myriad ways that African-Americans have been targeted, why tobacco is a social justice issue, and how the African-American community is working to combat the influence of the tobacco industry.