A Message from Our Executive Director

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A Message from Our Executive Director

A Message from Our Executive Director


For well over a decade, countless African Americans have prematurely perished from tobacco-
related illness as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inexplicably dithered on the need to
take meaningful action on menthol cigarettes. In fact, prohibiting the sale of menthol
cigarettes is the boldest, most significant move the FDA can make to positively impact the
nation’s health—period.

The disproportionate impact of tobacco use on African Americans is indisputable. Tobacco use
contributes to the three leading causes of death among African Americans: heart disease,
cancer and stroke. Blacks smoke fewer cigarettes on average and start smoking later than
whites, yet are more likely to die of tobacco-related diseases.  Compared to our white
counterparts, African Americans are generally at higher risk for COVID-19 infections, heart
diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Research
indicates that social and political implications are the primary causes of many of the
aforementioned health conditions.

The Center for Black Health and Equity is proud to have been a leader in this movement
through education, convenings, and strategic partnerships. We’ve employed innovative tools
via our Black Body Health Podcast, the State of Black Health Conference, and No Menthol
Sunday as a means to reach large audiences and supercharge the movement. We are also
leading efforts to engage the Congressional Black Caucus, and to have them well equipped to
reject the influence of Big Tobacco and take a stance on menthol.

We are proud of our work and will continue to support grassroots efforts across the country in getting menthol out of our communities regardless of the FDA’s ruling. But we hope they will do the right thing and ban menthol.

Delmonte Jefferson
Executive Director
Center for Black Health and Equity


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