Kool cigarettes have undergone more makeovers than the Kardashians. Initially, they used a cartoon penguin named “Willie,” who was a chef, a soldier and a doctor. Then, in the 1960s, they kicked Willie out into the cold and tried using a country frost approach that included images of water and snow. Then in the 1970s and ’80s, Kool realized something that proved invaluable after cigarette companies aggressively targeted menthol cigarettes to Black folks. Kools decided to actually look at what Black folks were into and use that to market to them. Kool began sponsoring jazz festivals, and the advertisements changed to dimly lit images of someone playing the saxophone and thus, niggas starting smoking Kools.
The plan was to get Black folks smoking mint-flavored cigarettes and now with COVID-19 shaking the tables and the Black Lives Matter movement not going for the fuckshit, it looks like Congress and the White House are finally going to put a stop to menthol cigarettes because they are killing us.
According to the New York Times, one doesn’t have to look for any more examples than this: “Black smokers smoke less but die of heart attacks, strokes and other causes linked to tobacco use at higher rates than white smokers do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 85 percent of Black smokers use Newport, Kool and other menthol brands that are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than plain tobacco, according to the Food and Drug Administration.”
“Covid-19 exposed the discriminatory treatment that Black people have been facing for hundreds of years,” Dr. Phillip Gardiner, a co-chairman of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) told the Times. The AATCLC has been pushing for menthol bans, calling menthol cigarettes and cigarillos “main vectors” of disease and death among Black Americans.
“It’s precisely at this time that we need strong public health measures.”
The Times notes that Congress is listening, and several states and municipalities across the country have been “organizing support and getting new laws passed at the state and local level.”
And let’s not act like this fight is purely because America wants to see Black people get healthy. This started because white parents are looking to ban flavored e-cigarettes, which include menthol flavors, and thus became a cause for concern. The FDA now must respond to a court order from a citizens’ petition to ban menthol by April 29.
President Biden hasn’t come out directly to support the ban, but Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for the White House, told the Times that in the past, the president has supported tobacco control measures.
“We are thinking about all of our options that could help reduce tobacco use and address persistent disparities,” Munoz said.
“I have no doubt that it’s time for a ban on menthol,” Rep. Karen Bass, of California, who led the Congressional Black Caucus during the last Congress, told the Times. “We should never allow a chemical that is specifically targeted to a population, that increases death, no matter who it is. In this case, it’s menthol and the Black population. I’m so excited that we have an administration that puts racial equity and health disparities at the top of its agenda.”
So thanks, white allies, I guess.