Statement on Juneteenth | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Statement on Juneteenth

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 19, 2020

Today, Juneteenth, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, but this year, more than ever, it is also a powerful reminder that the nation’s fundamental promise of liberty and justice for all remains far out of reach for African Americans. Recent events have painfully exposed the systemic racism and injustice that remain pervasive throughout our society, including in law enforcement, employment, housing, education, health care and so much more.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids stands against racism and racial injustice in all its forms and is dedicated to being a part of the larger fight for social justice and health equity in our country.

With African Americans dying so disproportionately from COVID-19, this pandemic has exposed the shocking health disparities that must be addressed as part of the overall effort to achieve social justice in our nation. As the result of the tobacco industry ruthlessly targeting the African-American community for more than 50 years with advertising for menthol cigarettes, tobacco use plays a major role in these disparities. We must put an end to the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing, which has transformed the use of menthol cigarettes by African Americans and resulted in African Americans dying at higher rates than other groups from cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other tobacco-related diseases. Many of these underlying conditions – and smoking itself – have been identified as risk factors for COVID-19.

Today, on Juneteenth, we renew our commitment to the fight for social justice and health equity for all.