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Black Lawmakers Are Not Kool With Menthol Cigarettes

Black lawmakers want menthol flavor included in a bill set to ban cigarettes with a candy, fruit, or spice flavor. The Congressional Black Caucus says the legislation should not specifically exempt menthol cigarettes, the flavor favored in the black community, according to today's New York Times.

Since the 1950s, tobacco companies have targeted menthol cigarette advertising at the black community. Research suggests that menthols increase the risk of addiction and cancer. Reports of a 200-person dust up in Florida, ignited by a pack of stolen cigarettes, makes me think addiction can be pretty dangerous.

The lawmakers want to add an amendment that would increase research and clearly give the FDA authority to ban the flavor. The NY Times article reports that emails from Newport are popping up in smokers' inboxes, urging them to contact their representatives. Regardless of whether menthol makes the banning bill, opposition from President Bush and tobacco state legislators means the entire bill may not pass anyway. Do you think flavors making it easier to smoke should be banned? What do you make of laws targeting specific communities?


Join The Conversation
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
If parents are the people who most buy a certain thing, it is marketed to parents, ergo, if a certain demographic most buys a product, it is marketed to them.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Thanks stephley, I thought maybe the question and focused was bypassed and just wanted to know what others thought. It would be one thing to mass market but to target specific people seems iffy and I am in marketing.
stephley stephley 9 years
Because they're counting on certain groups being less informed and more susceptible. Targeting certain razors or shaving creams to women doesn't seem a diabolical thing, but targeting certain audiences for cigarettes and alcohol starts into shaky territory. You could use laws to protect against targeting children at least to an extent, but if you try to legislate against targeting adult groups you're going to run into all kinds of issues. It'd be nice to be able to appeal to corporate morality but that's a joke.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Sorry Liberty, I just saw that it was you that wrote the post.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I understand the agruments and justifications above; however, the question Citzen proposed was never answered. Why are these products being pushed and targeting specific communities. I would understand if it was a mass campaign but why target certain groups.
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 9 years
Smoking is bad m'kay? I get it. Kick me out of bars, restaurants, and other open spaces... fine I have to share. But now they're saying because something that I like is likable then it needs to be banned. So smoking is the added strain on the governments health care programs? What about mothers that have more children just to get bigger welfare checks, the higher percentage of morbidly obese persons, or maybe even lack of affordable health care to the hard-working population, isn't it just easier to not work and get what you need to have? I understand things aren't always black and white, but things always seem to be construed that way.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
I never understood why cig companies aren't required to list their ingrediants on the packaging especially with all the controversy concering what goes into them. It is a substance that goes into your body, shouldn't there be a nutrition facts label or something? I don't smoke but if I did, I would think I would want to know if there really is formaldehyde in what I'm smoking of if there isn't. GS is right. People know that cigs are bad for you, but I think, as far as lisiting the ingrediats is concerned, it's a matter of holding big tabacco accountable. If you have nothing to hide, put a list of ingrediants on all your packages. That being said, Big Tabacco is Big Tabacco and none of this will come to fruition. Menthol cigs will always be availible and cigs will not have a list of ingrediants on them. BTW I have never seen an Smirmoff Ice with a nutrition facts label on it either. We don't know whats in those either. I know I'm not getting any vitamins or whatever but they could at least tell us the calories and carb counts.
stephley stephley 9 years
What about corporate or political accountability? You make it sound as if the poor corporations are at the mercy of consumers. People know smoking it bad for them, but not many know that they're still lacing cigarettes with additives to make them more addictive. And many people feel the same way about the statistics that you do GS - so they smoke and the government ends up with more health care burdens. The government can add criminal charges if a dealer sells laced pot, why should it be different for a corporation? Is it invasive to take toys with lead paint off the market, because any parent who isn't brain dead knows children shouldn't be putting the little fake jewelry in their mouths. Some people believe a child would pretty much have to eat a bucket of lead paint to become brain damaged, so licking a couple of Thomas trains isn't going to do it.
anne_ anne_ 9 years
Whatever happened to personal accountability. Seriously. I don't think the government should be the one making my decisions. I find it terribly invasive.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
Also, the 1 of 5 deaths related to smoking is such a stretch. If someone dies of anything that has even an inkling of a connection in some study that has been linked to smoking/second hand smoke, they are added to this statistic. Even when the deceased hadn't smoked in 50+ years or been around a smoker. It is a very vague statistic.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Agreed 100%, GS.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 9 years
Ok, first off, you would have to be a world class moron to be alive in the world today and not know smoking was bad for you. That being said, if you smoke, it's your fault. No one tricked you into it. And I agree completely with the smirnoff/zima comparison. There is no difference. But why stop there. If candy didn't taste so good, we wouldn't get fat. Twinkies too. When the government starts BANNING things, there is a problem.
stephley stephley 9 years
Free will is fine, but what's wrong with the government moving against business people who intentionally spike products to the detriment of people's health? If you don't ban them, then enforce disclosure of the exact nature of a product's contents - like a very clear information warning that has to cover half the labeling. If you're okay with selling the product, you shouldn't mind sharing what's in it. A free market shouldn't mean that producers have carte blanche to foist anything that might make them a buck off on consumers. Companies are allowed to keep information off labels, or to disguise it, so that consumers are limited in their ability to make educated choices; they have the upper hand in court... the government has as much an obligation to protect the citizens as it does to enable the producers.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Janneth - what's wrong with the free will argument? Is the government supposed to be big brother or our parents, telling us not to do things that are bad for us?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
What lesser evils are banned janneth?
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
Tobacco is gross no matter what the flavor. The smell of cigs makes me sick. :sick: As far as I'm concerned, they can outlaw regular tobacco cigarettes so that I no longer have to smell the smoke.
janneth janneth 9 years
One in every five deaths in the US is related to smoking. Can you tell me why cigarettes are legal? Don't say the free will/personal responsiblity argument. Look at all the lesser evils that are banned. It must be Big Tobacco, related jobs, etc.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I think the comparison to alcohol is interesting - am I the only one a little confused why Big Tobacco is being attacked and vilified constantly (not that I think smoking is at all good for you, of course) and Big Alcohol is left alone? I wonder about that far as harming innocent people alochol's done more damage than smoking, if you take into account drunk drivers and abusive intoxicated behavior. I know this is off-topic though.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
I knew they were favored but did not know marketed to specifically. Im with ya'll. Free Frigin Will!
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
My main problem with this is that you either ban them all because they are harmful and addictive (I wouldn't support that ban, though), or not at all--I don't agree with banning some varieties over others.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
gitsie: flavored cigarettes are being targeted because, as the theory goes, the flavors make them more pleasant to smoke and thus make it easier for people to use them and then get addicted. The same reasoning could apply to pleasantly flavored alcoholic beverages, if you think about it. And aren't there even studies that show that teenagers often prefer drinking those flavored boozes, like Smirnoff Ice and wine coolers, because they can get drunk without having to really taste the alcohol?
gitsie123 gitsie123 9 years
What's the problem? If it increases the risk of addiction and cancer shouldn't they be added to the ban? I don't see how Smirnoff ice and menthol cigarettes are related.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Exactly, MartiniLush. There's really only so much the government can do to save people from themselves. By the logic implied in that bill, it would also be okay to ban those girlie cocktails that are sweetened to hide the flavor of the five different liquors in them, so that people can drink them easily without noticing how drunk they are until they try to stand up. :)
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
I'd not heard this about menthol cigs...sounds like most people hadn't....Liberty, any info about why this is? I'm with JudeC and Verily...where will the line be drawn - if we do this for one thing, why not another? and another and another and so on.... Whatever happened to personal accountability?
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Akyiba I was about to say the same thing! That guy looks exactly like ?uestlove but I think it's an ad from the 70s. I got to go backstage at a Roots concert and meet him, he's a sweetheart. I've never heard this about menthol cigs either.
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