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Letter to the Editor: Menthol Cigarettes – The Unknown Women’s Health Problem

This year, Women’s History Month comes at a pivotal time – women’s voices and stories are being heard and lifted up in a way they never have before.  This opportunity should be celebrated, and gives us a chance to see history in new ways – including stories about things that impact women’s health.

Many may be surprised to know that one of the most critical health issues facing women today are menthol cigarettes.  They are a key reason why lung cancer is actually the leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the U.S.  In fact, almost twice as many women die from lung cancer than breast cancer, even though breast cancer is more prevalent.

Legendary African American singers, Mary Wells and Sarah Vaughan, had their voices silenced too early and suffered health related issues caused by smoking cigarettes. Mary developed cancer of the larynx because of her smoking habit.  She smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, lost all of her finances to expensive cancer treatments, and suffered with cancer until she died of pneumonia at age 49.

A longtime smoker, Sarah developed lung cancer and carcinoma of the joints in one hand. Sarah’s amazing contralto voice became huskier after years of smoking, and she died at the age of 66.

It’s important to understand the history behind menthol cigarettes.  They were actually created by tobacco companies specifically for women.  For decades the tobacco industry advertised and marketed them intentionally and directly to women by showing images of group fun, freedom, and glamour in their marketing.

Unfortunately, it worked.  Women are nearly twice as likely as men to smoke menthol cigarettes, and more than 50% of menthol smokers are women. In California, 70% of African American adult cigarette smokers smoke menthol cigarettes compared to only 18% of white adult cigarette smokers.

Research shows that menthol cigarettes are actually worse for the user than regular cigarettes. Menthol makes it easier for smokers to inhale more deeply and allows harmful particles to settle deeper inside the lungs. By reducing airway pain and irritation, continuous menthol smoking can mask the early warning symptoms of smoking-induced respiratory problems.  Menthol smokers are also less likely to successfully quit smoking than other smokers. 

“Menthol cigarettes are one of the worst, yet not explicitly identified, causes of health problems facing women today,” said Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, a Bay Area organization that works to expose and address the inequities in tobacco use and its impact among diverse communities.  “It’s a serious problem that gets negligible attention – we need to inform women about what the tobacco industry has done to us.”

The fact that menthol cigarettes are still produced and sold is puzzling.  In 2009, the FDA banned the sale of all flavored cigarettes, except menthols – and the tobacco industry has managed to keep them legal since then. 

“For those who want to take local action, every county in California has a tobacco control coalition – people can check with their county department of health to learn when and where meetings are held, everyone is welcome.  There are also resources available for anyone who is personally affected,” said Ms. McGruder. 

Now is the time to break menthols impact on women for good.  For anyone who wants help to quit, the California Smoker’s Helpline is at www.nobutts.org or 1-800-NO-BUTTS.

What It Do with the LUE: Bringing Awareness to Domestic Violence

By Lue Dowdy

Bringing Awareness to Domestic Violence is WHAT IT DO!

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. This year’s event will provide information and resources for anyone in need. If your experiencing this type of behavior or know of a person that is, we encourage you to speak up and seek help.

Be a part of this epic event, a night of GIRL POWER! We are looking for a few more ladies for our $500 plus size model competition scheduled to take place Sunday, August 26.

No experience is needed, but you must pay a registration fee. Good luck to our registered beauties as they get ready to compete for the cash prize, crown, trophy, sash and more. They include: Browneisha Blackman, Chondra Smith,Essence Johnson, Jasmine Hall, Liz Brown, Lola Lestrange, Miia Carrington, Sunday DeLa Cruz and Tenisha White.

Come on out! Be a vendor, a sponsor or a volunteer! It’s not too late to participate ladies please text (909) 567-1000 or inbox us at @Lueproductions on Facebook.

 Until next week L’s!

The Beautillion Knights Learn the Value of Education

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Dr. Brian Haynes, Vice President of Student Affairs at California State University San Bernardino spent the afternoon on Sunday, March 11, at the San Bernardino Boys and Girls Club dialoguing with the Social Lites, Inc. Beautillion Knights and participants of the Beautillion program on the value of education, his personal journey in going to college and how higher education opened doors of opportunities for him. 

Haynes encouraged students to pay attention to deadlines in submitting applications for admission to desired colleges and/or universities, filing for financial aid, living on campus at a minimum for the first year of college and getting involved with the University/College of choice clubs and organizations. Haynes is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. which focuses on education, community service and brotherhood.

The 51st Beautillion program will commence on March 24, 2018 at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. For more information, please telephone chairperson, Mrs. Donna Little-James at 909-528-9793 or co-chairperson, Mrs. Bridgette Shaw at (909) 648-6165 or publicity chairperson, Mrs. Twillea Evans-Carthen at tevanscarthen@yahoo.com.