Three generations of LaTrisha Vetaw’s family have smoked menthol cigarettes. It might even be four, since Vetaw knows that her great-grandfather smoked but isn’t sure what brand he lit up.
It is a family tradition that Vetaw has long lamented. Before her 2021 election to the Minneapolis City Council, she worked as the director of health policy and advocacy for NorthPoint Health and Wellness, a medical center in the city’s North Side neighborhoods. There, she was an outspoken advocate against tobacco use, particularly menthol cigarettes whose green packages she saw far too often growing up in her family and community.
Thanks to advocates like Vetaw, a few states and a growing number of communities in Minnesota and elsewhere have taken steps to ban menthol cigarette sales, with objections including the minty flavor’s appeal to new users and its enhancement of nicotine’s addictive powers. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to build on that work by taking a strong and necessary step: