Black Pastors in the Bay Area Defend Their Communities Against Dangers of Tobacco

Mt. Sinai Pastor George E. Hurtt – Photo: Dennis Wafford
Mt. Sinai Pastor George E. Hurtt – Photo: Dennis Wafford

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles joined religious institutions across the nation as it hosted the first NoMenthol Sunday observance in Southern California. NoMenthol Sunday is a national interfaith effort that educates congregants about the role mentholated and candy-flavored tobacco products play in addicting African Americans to tobacco products. 

Over 45,000 Black people die every year from tobacco related diseases; it is by far the No. 1 preventable cause of death. NoMenthol Sunday is the African American expression of World No Tobacco Day, which is an international day of observance and resistance against multi-national tobacco companies. It was started by the World Health Organization in 1988 to bring attention to the serious global health issue of tobacco.

Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church of Los Angeles joined religious institutions across the nation as it hosted the first NoMenthol Sunday observance in Southern California.

The Save Lives-Ban Menthol Coalition was created and took the day as their own when menthol was the only characterizing flavor not banned by the Food and Drug Administration when it was given authority to regulate cigarettes in 2009. The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and African American leaders, including the Congressional Black Caucus, took umbrage at menthol’s exclusion.

Adding menthol to cigarettes makes smoking easier to start and harder to quit. By adding this flavoring, tobacco companies have successfully recruited both youth and marginalized populations.

NoMenthol Sunday is a national interfaith effort that educates congregants about the role mentholated and candy-flavored tobacco products play in addicting African Americans to tobacco products.

This exclusion quickly became a social justice issue because over 80 percent of Black smokers use mentholated cigarettes, which is a direct result of the pernicious tobacco industry targeting of Black communities. Studies show that placing a ban on menthol may save lives and prevent 9 million people from starting to smoke.

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Source: San Francisco Bay View | Carol McGruder