The Journal Gazette
Monday, May 09, 2022 1:00 am


Stand up for progress in tobacco battle

The Center for Black Health & Equity's No Menthol Sunday, May 15, is an annual community awareness event to engage faith communities in tough conversations about how menthol and tobacco addiction has robbed the Black community of its health for generations.

The tobacco industry has stripped the Black community's finances, engaged in targeted unethical marketing, and attempted to trick young people with flavors like spearmint and menthol. When asked why industry leaders didn't smoke, according to a 1992 report by the Times of London, an R.J. Reynolds exec said they reserve that right for “the young, the poor, the Black and stupid.”

Now, after a decades-long battle for health justice in tobacco control, we have acheieved a major win. On April 28, the FDA released two proposed rules prohibiting menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and all characterizing flavors in cigars. This action represents a huge and long overdue step forward for public health and health equity. When implemented, these changes will save lives, especially Black lives, and help protect children from tobacco addiction. Scientific evidence shows that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, easier to start and harder to quit.

It's now time for the final round. These rules could still take years to implement, especially given the likelihood for delays from tobacco industry litigation. In the meantime, local jurisdictions and states can move more quickly to remove these deadly products from the market, and many are doing so. What an opportunity, Indiana, to put us on the map for thinking progressively as well.

Faith communities can secure support within their congregations by ensuring they understand the benefits of this policy change. The Center for Black Health and Equity is asking us to be bolder and more confident than ever in our efforts to raise awareness. We can use No Menthol Sunday to trample the opposition. Decades of work are now coming to fruition, and we must maintain momentum until it is accomplished.

If you'd like your congregation to be involved in the local No Menthol Sunday efforts or would like to join our Tobacco Free Allen County Coalition, contact Pat Turner at or at 260-373-4276.

Pat Turner

Tobacco education coordinator

Tobacco Free Allen County

Student loan relief looks discriminatory

“Under the Biden administration, roughly $17 billion in federal student loan debt has been cancelled for some 725,000 borrowers, and on Thursday another $238 million for roughly 28,000 borrowers.” Might that not be considered payments for votes in the next elections?

Also, “high earners could be excluded from qualifying for student loan relief, and relief for loans that were taken out for medicine and law degrees could also reportedly be excluded.” Why is that not discrimination?

Likewise, is it also discrimination to apply additional taxes to those with incomes over $400,000? Might one say they earned it and should not be expected to fund more free social programs? Was it not discrimination to give weekly subsidy payments to some but not all taxpayers?

Ray Doyle

Fort Wayne

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