WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Legacy® President and CEO, Dr. Cheryl Healton:
Today, a Boston jury found in favor of Willie Evans in his suit against Lorillard Tobacco Company on behalf of his late mother, Marie R. Evans. Mr. Evans' suit alleged that Lorillard's distribution of free menthol cigarettes to children outside the Orchard Hill Housing Project in Roxbury, Mass., in the 1950s, was responsible for getting his mother hooked on smoking, which led to her death from lung cancer in 2002. This decision is a sad reminder of the tobacco industry's long history of marketing their products to our nation's kids, luring them into a deadly addiction.
Like many young smokers, particularly African-American smokers, Ms. Evans smoked menthol cigarettes, which are characterized by their minty taste, which covers up the harsh taste of tobacco, and cooling sensation, which eases the discomfort associated with smoking. It is little wonder that menthols are disproportionately smoked by younger and newer smokers, with the youngest smokers (middle school students) having the highest rates of menthol use (59.6 percent). Menthols have also been associated with lower quit rates. Even though menthol smokers are more likely to try to quit smoking than other smokers, fewer menthol smokers successfully quit smoking. This is particularly true for minority menthol smokers, who are notably less likely to successfully quit smoking than minority non-menthol smokers.
The FDA is currently considering whether to ban menthol as a flavoring in cigarettes, and Legacy has urged the FDA to do so. Scientific evidence suggests that removing menthol from cigarettes would likely reduce youth smoking rates, increase quit rates and reduce the number of Americans affected by the devastating toll of tobacco-related death and disease.
Legacy extends its deepest sympathies to the Evans family, and hopes that today's verdict holding Lorillard responsible for its actions brings them some small measure of comfort.
Legacy is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the national public health organization helps American live longer, healthier lives. Legacy develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use, especially among vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco, through grants, technical assistance and training, partnerships, youth activism, and counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns. The foundation's programs include truth®, a national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as having contributed to significant declines in youth smoking; EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting; and research initiatives exploring the causes, consequences and approaches to reducing tobacco use. The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. Visit http://www.legacyforhealth.org/.