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African American Leaders Speak Out Against Tobacco Companies’ Sale of Deceptive Non-Menthol Products

North Carolina tobacco farm.

Media Contact: Ed Sanders, ES Advisors Group


Phone: 310-869-3612

[Los Angeles, CA] On Wednesday, August 9th at 9:30 AM at the First African Methodist Episcopalian Church of Los Angeles, 2270 South Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018, the American Heart Association, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), California Assemblymember Tina McKinnor, the NAACP, The Center for Black Health & Equity, and a coalition of community activists and religious leaders will call for an end to the continually deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry.

The tobacco industry has introduced “new” products with packaging, color schemes, and imagery that are deceptively similar to past menthol products, which are now prohibited in California.  Last year, during the November 8, 2022 election, Californians overwhelmingly supported the Flavored Tobacco Products Ban Referendum (Proposition 31). The referendum upheld a state law that ended the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol flavored cigarettes, thus removing one of the biggest threats to good health within the African American community.  The American Heart Association estimates that as many as 30% of all coronary heart disease deaths in the United States each year are attributable to cigarette smoking, with the risk being strongly dose-related.  For African Americans, tobacco related deaths total more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined!

African Americans have an extraordinarily high usage rate of mentholated tobacco products that is not accidental and can ble directly linked to decades of targeted product marketing tactics, such as predatory product discounts and product giveaways.  Consumer studies estimate that over 90% of African American smokers use menthol tobacco products.  No other ethnic group has usage rates this high.  Health advocates have long noted that the menthol flavoring masks the harshness of tobacco, making it easier to start smoking and absorb larger doses of smoke and addictive nicotine.  As a result, African Americans suffer higher morbidity statistics from tobacco-related illness, such as heart disease.

Recently, Attorney General Rob Bonta determined that the four new tobacco products violate California law and sought to have the products removed from the marketplace.  RJ Reynolds responded by filing a lawsuit that seeks to allow their misleading product to remain in stores.

In a letter addressed to the Attorney General, the American Heart Association and African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council expressed sincere thanks for the determination and re-emphasized the importance of sustained vigilance with regards to the tobacco industry and its continued assault on the health of the African American community.

News Conference Details:

Date: Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Time: 9:30 am

Location: First AME Church of Los Angeles, 2270 South Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90018