Sunday, December 05, 2010

8230: Menthol Menace.

From The Chicago Tribune…

A vicious cycle
Quitting isn’t as hard as not starting again

By Bethsheba Mcgruder

A recent study showed 80 percent of African-American smokers choose menthol cigarettes. On Nov. 24, I tried to stop smoking cigarettes — again. This was my latest attempt over the last 730 days to replace a bad habit with a good one. I am a full-time student, a mother of two, and with each pregnancy, I stopped cold turkey.

The conspiracy theory I have drawn up in my mind: I must either get pregnant again to psychologically stop the self-inflicted suicide of smoking or repeatedly go through a tremendous personality shift. As I empty each pack, I vow never to buy another. After 18 hours, I am angry at my children and the world. I buy another pack of non-menthol. I prefer menthol, but I decide to trick myself. It does not work. Now I have two packs of cigarettes and I smoke both packs in two days.

I have tried nicotine gum and the patch, prescribed by my doctor at a clinic in my South Side neighborhood. Switching to a physician at Rush University Medical Center, my new doctor prescribed Chantix. However, when I attempt to fill the prescription, I am denied. The claim is rejected. I must pay out of pocket because Medicaid does not cover second attempts at smoking cessation. It is a one-time shot at killing a monster of an addiction. One hundred dollars is too expensive for me to purchase Chantix, so I continue to smoke and try to cut down to three cigarettes a day.

The question of the day: “Is it the menthol that has me crazed like a mad woman?” According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, 11 new studies funded by the National Cancer Institute “found that African-Americans and young adults disproportionately smoke menthol cigarettes and are less successful when they try to quit.”

Cigarette companies continue to lure young smokers. According to anti-smoking activists, the strategy of cigarette companies is to attract smokers before they turn 18, in the hope of turning them into lifelong customers.

There was a time when you wouldn’t see your parents smoke, definitely not your mother.

Maybe once we eradicate the problem with adults, it can trickle down to our youth. Proper education and programming are always beneficial.

The NAACP wants the federal Food and Drug Administration to ban menthol cigarettes in an effort to deter another generation from smoking.

I would suggest that we leave the FDA out of the equation. The NAACP should create an initiative program to re-educate the next generation about the pitfalls of smoking and implement cessation programs. Then, I would like to plead that letters be sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 535 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, Ill., 62761, and to state legislators asking that they allow more than one stop-smoking prescription. After all, smoking is a revolving addiction.

Bethsheba Mcgruder lives in the Jeffery Manor neighborhood.

No comments: