As the Federal Drug Administration moves to ban menthol cigarettes, Cumberland County officials continue their efforts to reduce their consumption.
County Commissioners and the Board of Health have proclaimed May 16 a “menthol-free Sunday.”
Travis Greer is a tobacco control officer for Region 6. He said the proclamation aims to help reduce smoking in the community. The proclamation also shows the position of the Commissioners and the Health Council on smoking and its impact on the African American community, he said.
Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009, which allowed the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products and banned all flavors of cigarettes except menthol.
Tamra Morris, a public health educator for the Department of Health, said the FDA announced on April 29 that it was starting the process to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
“So that also goes with the initiative as a whole, so not just (No) Menthol Sunday, but banning menthol all together,” she said.
Nicotine users who quit smoking may experience symptoms of withdrawal, depression, irritability, frustration, anger or anxiety, Morris said. Studies show that it is more difficult for those who smoke menthol cigarettes to quit than for those who smoke non-menthol cigarettes, she said.
“The aim is to help reduce the number of people who smoke,” said Greer.
Originally, the Center for Black Health and Equity created and adopted the No Menthol Sunday mission.
The county is following the lead of the center, which has decided that the third Sunday in May of each year will be menthol-free Sunday.
Many religious communities use Sunday as a day of reflection.
“The Center for Black Health and Equity chose Sunday, because of its focus on working with faith communities of all faiths, to be community advocates and the voice to help spread this message about diseases and tobacco-related disparities, ”said Greer. “Using this component of faith is very important.”
Although the recently passed proclamation is called “No Menthol Sunday,” Greer said health officials hope the conversation about the proclamation continues beyond that Sunday.
Greer said menthol cigarettes contribute to tobacco-related health disparities in the United States
“Some groups are more likely to start smoking menthol cigarettes than others and to continue to smoke because of the aroma put into cigarettes and tobacco products – like menthol,” he said. . “This then puts these groups at a higher risk of contracting tobacco-related illnesses because they are addicted. Some statistics indicate that young people and African Americans are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than other groups.”
According to the CDC, 54% of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 who smoke use menthol cigarettes and the majority of African Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes, Greer said.
Cumberland County Television in North Carolina showed two short films on the effects of menthol and how the distributors were intentional in their advertisements to African American communities when they launched menthol cigarettes there. has years, Morris said.
For more information on Menthol Free Sunday, visit nomentholsunday.org.
Health and education writer Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3561.
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