I dunno what makes an anti think if you take away my menthols, then I'll quit smoking. I guess antis wil have to learn the hard way that just cause you ban menthols doesn't mean every menthol smoker will quit.
I dunno if I'll call regs "dirty cigs to smoke." But I do agree with the menthol smokers in this article who imply smoking a reg tastes like sheet.
OVER the last 10 years, Jamey Heath, a songwriter and producer, has adjusted to an increasingly nonsmoking world and put up with the indignities.
Smokers like him have become outnumbered in the music industry. He has seen restaurants shut down their smoking sections and cities shun him as persona non grata, even in the open air. These days he is reduced to smoking his Salem Lights in his car or on his front porch, in deference to his nonsmoking wife and two children.
But a governmental ban on menthol cigarettes? Despite his own mixed feelings about smoking, "it feels unconstitutional," Mr. Heath said. If all cigarettes were banned, he said, "that's one thing, but to cut out just one segment seems a little fishy."
Smokinghas become politically charged as Congress considers legislation that would give the federal government the power to regulate tobacco products for the first time. The bill, which the House of Representatives approved last week in a bipartisan vote, and which now awaits a Senate vote in the fall, bans clove, vanilla and other flavorings in cigarettes.
But the bill's sponsors in the House decided that the Food and Drug Administration should make the decision on how to regulate menthol, the most common flavoring. Menthol cigarettes account for more than a quarter of all cigarette sales and, studies and surveys show, are the preference of the overwhelming majority of African-American smokers, as well as a significant proportion of all teenagers ages 12 to 17.
Those who support the ban of menthol include seven former federal secretaries of health and human services, African-American antismoking advocates and some Congressional Black Caucus members. Those opposing the ban of menthol include , the nation's largest cigarette company; other Black Caucus members; and major public health groups, which said a compromise was needed so as not to derail the legislation.
In this maelstrom of debate are the smokers. There are those like Mr. Heath, who is African-American, who reject such wholesale interference with personal choices, and there are others who believe that having their menthol cigarettes snatched away may be just what they need to end their habit.
AN entertainment executive with a major Hollywood studio who smokes Marlboro Smooth, a newly introduced menthol, said he did not want the government "telling me anything."
"Are we supposed to be so stupid that we need the F.D.A. to try to protect us from ourselves?" he said. But a ban, he continued, would be "one more thing to help me quit when I should anyway."
The executive, a white man who spoke on condition of anonymity because he serves on an antismoking committee in the movie industry, said he had once managed to stop smoking but became hooked on menthols about 10 years ago when he was stressed out and happened to have a cold. He asked a friend for a menthol cigarette, which he thought was a "less harsh" option.
"I stuck with menthol," he said. "A nonmenthol seems like smoking dirt."
Taste is a big draw to menthol cigarettes, whose mint flavor and cooling sensation are not unlike those found in mentholated cough drops or toothpaste. A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published this year found that many African-American smokers view menthol cigarettes as "soothing" and "smooth," and less harsh and dangerous than nonmentholated cigarettes.
(Studies are inconclusive on whether menthol cigarettes are more, or less, addictive and harmful than unflavored ones.)
"For me, I think I'm addicted twice, once to the menthol and then second to the tobacco," said one smoker in a small group discussion with black adult smokers in the Atlanta area, which was held by the C.D.C. and summarized in a study published this year in Ethnicity & Health, an academic journal.
Marketing campaigns have greatly influenced consumers. Menthol cigarettes have been heavily promoted to African-Americans since the 1960s, numerous studies have documented. A study released this year by the Harvard School of Public Health found that menthol cigarettes are increasingly popular with adolescents, partly because tobacco companies have new milder brands that facilitate "initiation."
Of course, some smokers had their eyes wide open when they succumbed to the habit.
Katherine Dozier, 24, a wedding planner in Los Angeles who is white, said she started smoking regularly about a year ago, when a Hollywood club passed out Camel No. 9 menthols as a promotion. She was struck by the "cute" black-and-turquoise box with a pink camel, and said the cigarettes were obviously aimed at young women. "You just don't see men smoking them because they wouldn't be caught dead with these pink and green boxes," she said.
Ms. Dozier liked the cigarettes, finding them "really smooth and minty and very light," she said. "They didn't make me cough."
Soon she was smoking half a pack a day, also made easy, she noted, because the packs were sold two for the price of one. She said she recently cut back significantly, only smoking "if I've had a hard day at work." She is trying to quit.