Smoking can weaken your immune system and put you at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. Smoking is also a major cause of heart disease and stroke, which along with lung cancer, are the three leading causes of death among African Americans. A major difference in smoking behavior between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites is that an overwhelming majority of African Americans smokers use menthol tobacco products.
Since the 1960s, menthol has been heavily marketed to African Americans. Today, 80-90% of African American smokers use menthol tobacco, compared to less than 30% of non-Hispanic white smokers. The disproportionate use of menthol tobacco among African Americans might contribute to smoking-related health disparities -African Americans who smoke menthols have a lower likelihood of quitting than those who smoke non-menthols.