No Menthol Sunday: Founding member of national African American tobacco leadership council to kick-off efforts in Wisconsin

Milwaukee, WI – On Friday, April 16, 2021 (11-12:15) Carol McGruder, a national leader in tobacco-prevention efforts and co-chair of an organization that filed a complaint against the FDA for not taking action to ban menthol, is bringing her message to Wisconsin. McGruder will join Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Secretary of Health Designee Karen Timberlake and other dignitaries to kick off No Menthol Sunday activities in the region. 

No Menthol Sunday, which takes place on May 16, 2021, is an annual event where the faith community and their allies help spread awareness of the impact of tobacco on Black health, provide support to those trying to quit, and raise awareness on issues related to menthol. No Menthol Sunday is a national day of observance led by the The Center for Black Health and Equity and supported locally by the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network. The kickoff event will feature speeches by McGruder and several local leaders, representatives of the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network, faith leaders, and will be emceed by media personality Vivian King. The event will also feature a “Call to Action” from several Wisconsin mayors, including Tom Barrett of Milwaukee. 

They are participating in support of an annual national effort to raise awareness on the impact of menthol tobacco use on African Americans.  Smoking kills 45,000 African Americans a year and is a major contributor to their leading causes of death: heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The most commonly used tobacco product among African Americans is menthol cigarettes. In fact, 9 out of 10 Black smokers in Wisconsin smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to 8 in 10 nationally. 

Menthol is a peppermint flavored anesthetic tobacco companies added to reduce the harshness of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The Menthol additive makes it easier to start and harder to quit, and although African Americans start smoking at a later age and smoke less, they are more likely to die from tobacco use, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Tobacco companies have historically targeted menthol products to communities of color. 

In Wisconsin, the smoking rate for African-Americans is 26%, nearly double that of the state’s general adult population (16%). The theme of No Menthol Sunday 2021 is “A New Day,” and represents a renewed opportunity to build tobacco-free communities that are healthy and just and advocate for a healthier future that makes menthol and tobacco-related disease a thing of the past. 

The national day of observance is being recognized locally through proclamations from the State of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. No Menthol Sunday activities are also taking place in Beloit, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Walworth County this year. Faith leaders will be encouraging their congregations and communities to support one another in escaping tobacco addiction and observe the role of menthol and other flavors in activities leading up to No Menthol Sunday on May 16th.

Kickoff Meeting: Friday, April 16, 2021 from 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

To join via computer/tablet/etc:

To join by telephone: 312-626-6799 Meeting ID: 896 7877 8215