We Want to Quit: 70%

Supporting Cessation in African American Communities

About the 70% Toolkit

Seventy percent of African Americans who smoke report a desire to quit commercial tobacco, and this is encouraging news. Yet, while this percentage is higher than that of white people who smoke, African Americans often report more failed quit attempts. There are many factors that contribute to this concerning reality, but there are also many solutions for increasing successful quit rates among African Americans. The Center for Black Health & Equity is proud to partner with National Jewish Health to provide The 70% resource guide for building effective cessation programs for African Americans who are ready to quit commercial tobacco for good. It is designed to assist state tobacco control managers in educating, engaging, encouraging and supporting Black Americans in their unique journeys to quit using menthols and other tobacco products.

The 70% guide will provide a clear understanding of how to engage African Americans who smoke in cessation treatment programs while also taking into account the social determinants of health that impact their everyday lives. This document will also challenge the overtly racist rhetoric that Big Tobacco has promoted regarding menthol, a key element in addiction, and increase your understanding of the nuanced Black experience.

This toolkit will provide tobacco control personnel with brief information about the relationship between the African American community and tobacco. It will present the social implications of menthol flavoring, how menthol continues to be disproportionately targeted to African Americans, detail cessation challenges and suggestions on how to be a catalyst for successful quit journeys for the African Americans in your community.

We want to quit.

Tobacco kills more than 45,000 African Americans each year, but most African Americans who smoke want to quit and actively attempt to do so. Social circumstances, including targeted marketing and discrimination, make it easier to start and harder to quit. Menthol and other flavored products make quitting difficult, too.

Here are some facts associated with quitting menthol cigarettes:

  • About 73% of adult African Americans who smoke report that they want to quit
  • Each year over 58% of African Americans attempt to quit, and only 3.3% are successful
  • Despite more quit attempts, African Americans are less successful at quitting than those of other races and ethnicities.
  • People who prefer menthol cigarettes have a harder time quitting than those who use non-mentholated

Download the Toolkit: 

What’s the FDA’s role? 

It has been years since the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law. In its ban on flavored cigarettes and cigars, it excluded menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes. On Thursday, April 29, 2021 the FDA announced its commitment to ban menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and cigars. This decision by the FDA is the most aggressive stance that the agency has ever taken on menthol and is a step forward toward health equity.

The FDA recognizes the importance of ensuring broad and equitable access to all the tools and resources that can help currently addicted smokers quit. This ban is a significant win, especially for the African American community. 

Combating misinformation.

Those who benefit most from tobacco industry funding and donations do not want menthol to be banned. As they spread misinformation to keep these flavors, it is important for advocates to stay equipped with the facts:

  • A menthol ban regulates retailers and manufacturers, not those who may use or possess these products.
  • There is no evidence that a menthol ban will result in an illegal “menthol” market.
  • The FDA has no authority to criminalize individuals; issues of police brutality are serious and should not be undermined by a menthol ban’s false associations.