This year, 45,000 Black Americans will die from tobacco-related illnesses. The same number will likely perish next year, and almost as many the year after that.
Fully 85% of Black people who smoke got hooked on nicotine through menthol cigarettes, which mask the harsh taste of tobacco and other chemicals. Menthol exacerbates both addiction — the cooling effect can decrease the cough reflex and throat dryness — and health problems. Smokers tend to inhale menthol cigarettes more deeply and hold the smoke in their lungs longer, and they are harder to quit.