Ban Menthols? Our Government To The Rescue!
Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics has confirmed a longstanding trend — namely that whites live longer than blacks pretty much consistently, and have for a long time. People have attributed this to the increased difficulty of containing blood pressure in black people — probably a genetic difficulty– which leads to increased rates of both stroke and of heart disease. Both have long been established as being deadly. Plenty of well meaning people have at least tried to deal with this. One of the well-meaning people is me. Many times I have seen people of color for other reasons, checked their blood pressure, been concerned, and referred them to appropriate blood pressure followup by general medical personnel. Of course, I have no way of knowing how many (if any) went where I told them, but I tried.
I mean, I would tell them, “If there is something extra that can be done to make sure you are around for a few more years, to see the grandchildren grow a bit or whatever is precious, then it should be done.” I usually have no problem getting the person to agree, at least in my presence. Menthol cigarettes are a different kind of issue, and therefore a little tougher to be unequivocal about.
We are not talking here about following through with a preventive treatment, but about a possible government-initiated, FDA regulation that could ban something proven dangerous for a lot of folks. I mean cigarettes can cause heart disease and lung cancer and these, also, are established killer diseases. The difference is that menthol is something that has been added to cigarettes, presumably to make them more pleasant. Banning this additive may work on some level, at least at the beginning, before the power of nicotine addiction gets a grasp on a human.
The menthol experience may still be source of pleasure to some, and the government is considering removing it. In fact, the advisory committee submitting this proposal to the FDA claims that although 30% of ALL smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, the black population is more like 80%.
Does this make it a racial issue?
Is there a difference between banning something and putting an extra warning on it? Why are we thinking about the first thing and not the latter?” The FDA does not seem to want to address any issues that may arise later from the ban, endorsing only the fact that it will give many smokers an opportunity to quit that will save their lives. They are overlooking a very simple fact. A ban is simply not how you prevent people from doing things. It does “look good” in that it makes the public (i.e. “voters”) look like the FDA is trying to do something to make African-Americans live longer. And no matter what strides have been made in this modern age, I think most Americans still consider “the government” – and probably the FDA, also – as white people. Imagine that I told you that I had the most wonderful diet. You could eat absolutely everything you wanted except German chocolate cake. Do you crave German chocolate cake yet? I am not saying we should not ban — only that we ought to think before we do, before people are gouged some unknown price for mentholated cigarettes imported from other countries and/or sold under the table. Remember how Prohibition worked out for alcohol?
How is prohibition working for marijuana (not to mention harder drugs)?
Do you think prohibiting menthol cigarettes magically solves a problem? Or can you see how it can create a whole host of new problems?
Why not develop something that is menthol but has little (or no) tobacco and tastes similar? The profit motive is certainly there. If menthol cigarettes are off the market, a bunch of companies ought to jump on the bandwagon and try to satisfy that market for menthol. (I understand it is not a “taste” although cigarette companies have to call it that to comply with complicated laws. It is reportedly a “feeling” or a “sensation” – which we usually call an experience).
Is such a development possible? I don’t know, but it may be better for the people this ban on menthols is allegedly trying to help. I’m just asking for humanity instead of political correctness –and that’s a lot, I know.