FDA proposal to ban menthol cigarettes draws praise and criticism


Carol McGruder:

Well, through – through the tobacco industry’s own documents that have come out in litigation over all these years, some research papers have come out.

One is called institutional racism. The other is Smoking with the Enemy. And it documents the tobacco industries, from their own documents, how they attacked African Americans, how they had special — in quotes — “urban programs” for black people. They distributed free cigarettes in our communities across the country to children as young as 9 years old.

One of those children was Dave Chappelle. When he was 14, he received free cigarettes in Washington, DC, in the subway station. And he talks in some of his interviews about how he got home, and he decided he was going to learn to smoke.

And so this seeding of these deadly, addictive products into our communities has been going on for decades. And while we’ve been very busy fighting for civil rights and all the other things that we — that’s happened with black people in this country, the tobacco industry has been there in the background, creating a addiction every generation after generation.

Over the past 20 years, one million black people have died from tobacco-induced diseases. My mother died of breast cancer. We do all kinds of research on the causes of breast cancer. We know what caused these millions of deaths. What caused these millions of deaths is the tobacco industry.


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