FDA weighs ban on menthol cigarettes
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FDA weighs ban on menthol cigarettes, which disproportionately addict — and kill — Black Americans

Theo Wilson avoided smoking most of his adult life. He remembered the smell of menthol from his childhood, the smell of his father’s cigarettes, his aunt’s and his grandmother’s. The minty smell of the cigarettes whose secondhand smoke gave him childhood asthma, the smell of the cigarettes that cut his grandmother’s life short.

But in 2018, when he portrayed an Iraq War veteran in a play in Denver, his character was expected to smoke a marijuana cigarette onstage. The prop master got him an e-cigarette with a blinking blue light at the end, wrapping it in rolling paper to look convincing. After everything he knew, after railing against smoking, he got hooked. Over-the-counter minty e-cigarettes became fat vape pens, vaping turned into menthol and clove tobacco cigarettes. He bummed Kools and Newports — two of the most popular menthol brands — off the musicians he played with, off the former felons he knew, their own habits developing because “these cigarettes were currency in the yard.”

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Written by Kat

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