Why do black Americans like menthol cigarettes?

Watching throat cancer kill my grandfather should have put me off smoking forever. Most of it was, but I would be remiss if I ignored the curiosity I had for cigarettes in my late teens and early twenties. What was so seductive about those tobacco sticks that made my grandfather want more? Besides habit and nicotine, of course.

After I started smoking weed and realized it was harmless – despite the torrent of propaganda that ran through my skull as a kid – I started wondering if cigarettes were similar. Were they inherently dangerous, or was smoking to excess, like my grandfather did, the problem? When I tried my first cigarette, I instinctively opted for the minty variant. I do not know why ; it seemed like a good choice.

Even though my first pack of cigarettes was my last, the experience stuck with me. Why did I intentionally play into a cultural stereotype? Then I thought back to my days at the hairdresser’s with my dad. I remembered all the advertisements for Kools and Newports hidden between the pages of Vibe and Jet magazine. Once these fuzzy memories came to the surface, I realized that I was the victim of an insidious campaign.

Newsy’s YouTube channel explains how menthol became the brand of choice for black Americans in the video above.

About Margaret Shaw

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