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Lawsuit Aims to Ban Menthols, Big Tobacco Bait for Black Smokers

Oct. 13, 2020, 9:00 AM

When Charles Debnam started smoking at age 9, he recalls, you could buy a doughnut, a soda, and a pack of menthols for $1. He’d seen older friends—about 13 or 15—smoking them in his Black neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and he found the smooth flavor appealing. “It feels good,” he says. “It’s like you’re sucking on a peppermint.”

Now, almost a half-century later and 30 years after breaking his own addiction, the 58-year-old antismoking counselor sees Black youths still getting addicted to nicotine through the minty flavor. “I let the younger folks know the history in the African-American community, of ...

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