Letter: Help is available for cigarette smokers | Letters

As someone who has encountered hundreds of people affected by preventable smoking-related cancers during my four-decade career at a nationally recognized cancer center, and who has also witnessed too often the effects of tobacco on my own community, it is important to me to make sure that my neighbors in the area know important facts about tobacco addiction.

Addressing nicotine addiction in black communities is important because 70% of black smokers want to quit; Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our country, but the pain and destruction it has inflicted is not equal across populations. Menthol cigarettes remain a key vector of tobacco-related death and disease in black communities. More than 85% of black Americans who smoke smoke menthol.

Even though smoking rates are similar for black Americans and white Americans, research shows that blacks smoke fewer cigarettes per day than their white counterparts. Despite this, blacks are more likely than whites to suffer from smoking-related illnesses, including lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart disease. Researchers believe this disparity in health effects may be related to the particularly harmful effects of menthol cigarettes.

Your health care provider can help you. Medicines and counseling can help. Most health insurance plans, including Medicaid, cover drugs. You can also contact the New York State Smokers Helpline at 1-866-NY-Quits (1-866-697-8487).

About Margaret Shaw

Check Also

Top FDA tobacco official resigns to take job at Philip Morris International

OOn July 26, Matthew Holman, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco …