May 31 is recognized as World No Tobacco Day (a tobacco free initiative or TFI). On this day we are reminded about ongoing efforts to reduce or ban the use of tobacco-related products around the world. This day also highlights what community and world organizations are doing to help people be aware of significant health risks associated with tobacco products.
Effects of Smoking on African Americans
The African American community is too familiar with the health risks of tobacco products. According to the American Lung Association, over 46 million people in the United States smoke cigarettes with 12 percent being African American.
Smoking is a big health issue for blacks as it has contributed to a number of health concerns that can be prevented. But, because of other health disparities in the black community, smoking gives blacks a higher chance of developing lung cancer than any other ethnic group.
The fact that cigarette smoking is taking the lives of people by the masses every year has forced a number of anti-tobacco groups to take action to save more lives.
Action Taken by Anti-Tobacco Advocates
The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), along with a number of other African American anti-tobacco advocates from across the United States is pushing for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the ingredient menthol in cigarettes. Their efforts include encouraging citizens and group organizations to sign a petition presented to the FDA to prohibit the use of menthol flavoring in cigarettes.
The FDA has banned the use of 13 flavoring ingredients in 2009 from being included in cigarettes, but menthol was not one of them. Researchers continue to gather evidence that suggests menthol may be posing more serious health risks than the public realizes.
What is The Big Deal about Menthol and Why Push for a Ban?
Menthol cigarettes are smoked by more than 80 percent of African Americans who smoke. There is a misconception about the cool refreshing aspect of menthol when it comes to it appearing in cigarettes. The removal of menthol may help people live longer, while making it easier for people to quit. This means 4,000 to 300,000 lives can be saved over the next ten to forty years.
Has the effects of cigarette smoke affected someone you know or taken the life of your loved one? What are your hopes for a world free of tobacco?