It's a widely accepted fact among tobacco addiction researchers that black people prefer menthol cigarettes. A study released just last month found 88 percent of black smokers prefer menthols; that number jumps to 94 percent in ages 12-25.
Yesterday Sen. Jeff Hayden (D-Minneapolis) introduced a bill (SF 1836) allocating $200,000 to dig into why black smokers love menthols and fund community outreach dedicated to helping them to quit. See also: Sen. Barb Goodwin Calls Out Ellison, Other Prominent DFLers Over Nonprofit Scandal
"We would gather the data, but that's just the foundation," says Hayden. "Much more of this would be used for outreach to communities of color."
Hayden says black smoking rates aren't dropping as fast as white smoking rates, and this is the first in a series of measures he plans on introducing to combat health disparities in Minnesota.
Next he intends to introduce a bill that would encourage Native and African Americans to get colonoscopies starting at 45, rather than the recommended age of 50. He says the two racial groups have a higher risk of developing colon or rectal cancer.
We had to ask if he really thought it was a good idea to come after menthols and encourage rectal exams.
"I'm all over the place, I know, but this is the kind of stuff that hurts a certain subset of people, and I'm trying to bring awareness to that," he said, laughing.
Send story tips to Ben Johnson.