As a kid I can remember wanting to seem “grown.” The easiest way to do that was to pick up a cigarette. The first time I took a puff I coughed my lungs out. Then a friend said to me, “Ew, don’t smoke those ‘nasty’ ones. Smoke the ones that taste like peppermint.”
Since advice from my 13 year-old friend was always “reliable” I did. And I kept the habit up until my early twenties. I often wondered whether I would have continued smoking after my initial horrendous experience if the cleverly masked peppermint cigarettes hadn’t been so readily available.
Thankfully, a recent report from the Center for American Progress, “Flavored Death and Disease for Minorities,” may finally have a solution to my decade-old question. They believe we should ban menthol, and I agree. In 2009 Congress directed the Food and Drug Administration to ban all other candy-, fruit-, and spice-flavored cigarettes but fell short of an outright ban on menthol. And it’s menthol that’s harming African Americans and gays the most because they suffer disproportionately from smoking-related diseases.