Coalition calls for ban on menthol cigarette sales in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local group is calling for a ban on menthol cigarette sales in Buffalo.

The ‘No Menthol Buffalo’ coalition launched its campaign at Health Sciences Charter School Tuesday morning. Speakers included Roswell Park’s Dr. Maansi Bansal-Travers, an associate professor of oncology.

Dr. Bansal-Travers said menthol cigarettes have an appealing flavor, making them easier to smoke, and says tobacco companies have intentionally targeted Black Americans, as well as other groups that have been economically and socially marginalized.

“Menthol cigarettes are the most commonly flavored tobacco used and removing menthol from cigarettes and flavors from cigars would be a game-changer that would save thousands of lives,” Dr. Bansal-Travers said, noting in Tuesday’s press conference that tobacco use has been associated with at least 12 types of cancer, among other illnesses.

Pastor George Nicholas of Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, who also serves as CEO of the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, was another one of the speakers at Tuesday’s conference.

“81 percent of Black Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes, up drastically from 10 percent of Black Americans who smoked menthols in the 1950s before the tobacco industry began to target the African-American community,” Nicholas said.

No Menthol Buffalo says that “45,000 Black Americans die from smoking-caused illnesses” every year. More information on the No Menthol Buffalo campaign can be found here.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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