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LETTER: Menthol ban needed for equity in healthcare

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  • Digital Team 

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by the Center for a Tobacco-Free Finger Lakes and written by Lauren Ho. If you’d like to submit a letter to the editor for consideration email it to [email protected].

May 19th marks the 10th anniversary of the No Menthol Sunday initiative. As we strive for equity in healthcare, it is imperative to address the specific challenges marginalized communities face, and a menthol ban presents a vital opportunity to do so.

Studies consistently show that menthol cigarettes disproportionately impact Black individuals, who are more likely to use them compared to other racial groups because of over a half century of targeted advertising. Menthol, with its cooling properties, masks the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. This creates a dual burden for the Black community – not only are they more likely to begin smoking, but they also face greater challenges in quitting. The toll that smoking has had on Black health is alarming, from heightened cardiovascular risks to increased risks of lung cancer and death.

Legislation banning menthol would be a proactive measure to protect the well-being of Black communities. It would not only reduce smoking rates, but also contribute to decreasing health disparities and promoting health equity. 

On No Menthol Sunday or even today, please consider quitting smoking or vaping. Talk with your doctor and contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487) or, or text DROPTHEVAPE to 88709.

Lauren Ho
University of Rochester (Biomedical Engineering)