Health officials have known for years that menthol cigarettes are dangerous, but are often marketed as less harsh than other cigarettes.
A local coalition of health groups is now focusing on getting them banned outright in Cuyahoga County.
Officials from the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition said in a meeting on Monday, they are especially concerned about menthol advertising that is often targeted at youth and the Black community.
Although Black Americans smoke fewer cigarettes than white Americans, they are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 7 out of 10 Black children who smoke use menthol cigarettes, according to the CDC.
Kenneth Ray, a senior program manager at The Center for Black Health and Equity, partially led the meeting Monday, where he reviewed some of their goals in championing efforts to put an end to menthol cigarettes in Cuyahoga County.
“We do not want young people or Black people to be incarcerated for using menthol flavored products,” Ray said. “It would be the vendors that sell tobacco products that would be the target of enforcement.”