NYSDOH Highlights No Menthol Sunday

May 17, 2024

Per the notice below, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is highlighting No Menthol Sunday.

New York State Department of Health Recognizes No Menthol Sunday

No Menthol Sunday Highlights Detrimental Impact Tobacco Industry Has on Black Communities

This Year's Theme "Rooted in Power: A Decade of Determination" Recognizes Organization's 10 Year Anniversary

The New York State Department of Health recognizes No Menthol Sunday, observed Sunday, May 19, by educating New Yorkers about the dangers of smoking and vaping and the tobacco industry's decades-long targeting of Black communities with menthol tobacco products.  No Menthol Sunday is The Center for Black Health & Equity's annual call to action highlighting the detrimental impact tobacco has on Black communities.  This year's theme, Rooted in Power: A Decade of Determination, reflects the organization's ten years of advocating for a tobacco-free world.

"Smoking causes long-term disease and disability, as well as premature death," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said."  No Menthol Sunday is a time to address the extremely harmful impact of commercial tobacco on Black communities and the aggressive, predatory methods used to target these communities with menthol products.  The State Health Department remains committed to providing support and resources to the Black community and all New Yorkers to help them quit smoking and have a better quality of life."

Menthol is a chemical found in peppermint and other mint plants and when added to tobacco products, provides a cooling sensation that masks the harshness.  Cigarettes with menthol increase the likelihood of becoming addicted: menthol tobacco products are easier to start and harder to quit, with studies showing that people who smoke menthol cigarettes are less likely to successfully quit than people who smoke non-menthol cigarettes.  For more than 60 years, the tobacco industry has specifically targeted Black communities with menthol tobacco product marketing and promotions to make menthol tobacco products more attractive.  As a result, in New York State, 86 percent of Black adults and 72 percent of Hispanic adults who smoke use menthol cigarettes compared to 52 percent of all adults who smoke.  Smoking-related illnesses are the number one cause of death in the Black community, surpassing all other causes of death, including COVID-19, diabetes, injuries, and accidents.

New York State continues to be a leader in tobacco control policies and in 2020, prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarettes or nicotine vapor products, including menthol-flavored products.  The Department, in conjunction with local tobacco control partners, launched the award-winning "It's Not Just" media campaign to draw attention to the tobacco industry's marketing and promotion of menthol-flavored tobacco products to youth, Black, and LGBTQIA+ communities.  The Department envisions a commercial tobacco-free and vape-free society for all New Yorkers.  Since 2000, the State's Tobacco Control Program has implemented evidence-based programming to reduce illness, disability, and death related to commercial tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and to alleviate social and economic inequities caused by tobacco use.  The program uses an evidence-based, policy-driven, and population-level approach to tobacco control and prevention with a commitment to promote health equity among populations disproportionately impacted by tobacco marketing and use.  The New York State Tobacco Control Program also funds 21 Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities grantees to educate community leaders and the public about the dangers and social injustice of tobacco marketing and engage local stakeholders to promote community changes that limit the commercial tobacco industry's presence, de-normalize tobacco use and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.  The Tobacco Control Program's efforts and actions have contributed to record-low youth and adult smoking rates in New York State.

New Yorkers who want help to quit smoking or vaping, including counseling and medication, can talk to a health care provider or contact the New York State Quitline.  The New York State Quitline provides free, confidential services, including information, tools, quit coaching, support in both English and Spanish, and free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), such as patches and gum.  Services are available by calling 1-866 NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), texting (716) 309-4688, or visiting www.nysmokefree.com for information, to chatting online with a Quit Coach, or signing up for Learn2QuitNY, a six-week, step-by-step text messaging program to build the skills needed to quit any tobacco product.  The New York State Quitline developed new resources for people to learn more about menthol, including how menthol affects African American, LGBTQIA+, and Hispanic or Latinx communities as well as tools to help quit menthol tobacco products.  Information about the Department's Tobacco Control Program is available here.  Learn more about how to help fight the injustice of menthol-flavored tobacco products on the program's It's Not Just campaign website and the Tobacco Free NYS website.