Colorado Black Health Collaborative has been working on educating the Community about menthol in the Black Community.  We recently hosted a dynamic Symposium addressing this timely issue.  In educating the Community we often point to the tobacco ads featuring vivacious Black people clinging to a menthol cigarette, “the source of their pleasure.”  Prior to the Symposium we encouraged a couple of our young people to prepare a statement and art piece that represents their views about menthol tobacco products.

We would like to share their work and words with you on this topic. These were unfiltered and reflect the students’ perspectives.  We are happy to give them a space to shine creatively and paint a view that doesn’t focus on the traditional way that we often approach the subject.

Kennidi Nobles is a high school senior at George Washington High School in Denver.

In this project I decided to take inspiration from the tobacco plant and use it as the center of this painting.  It’s a metaphor for how the Black Community specifically is targeted by huge tobacco companies.  As studies show that predominantly Black communities/neighborhoods across the country tend to have more products containing menthol tobacco advertised throughout the stores or places around them.  Posters advertising cheaper prices for menthol tobacco cigarettes is a common example.  Studies have found that little cigars and cigarillos are more available, cheaper, and highly advertised in Black neighborhoods.  I wanted to showcase this by having a young Black boy in the dark with dim lighting surrounded by plants (inspired by the tobacco plant including the many GMO plants containing tobacco as well) and naturally he picks up one.  It’s a reference to the logic behind advertisement repetition.  If a person sees something advertised over and over, naturally they will be more likely to buy the product, in this case it’s menthol tobacco cigarette ads which are fatal.  THIS IS TRULY A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE.

Pheobe is a high school senior at DSST:  Green Valley Ranch High School.

“When I think of cigarettes and the damages it does to our bodies, it makes me think of losing my hair. My hair is something I treasure and take for granted most of the time. I sometimes forget about my hair and neglect to adequately care for it, but that does not prevent it from performing its function. However, failing to care for our hair on a regular basis will lead to hair loss. Our lungs, like our hair, are something we take for granted. By smoking, people are slowly damaging their lungs, and until they notice how great of a damage smoking has done, they really don’t appreciate what they have until it’s gone. But unlike hair, when people treat their lungs badly, they can’t start over. Do something about it now, until it’s too late and you’re faced with irreversible harm.”

© 2015 Colorado Black Health Collaborative
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