About the author

Paul Feldman is a FairWarning staff writer.

7 comments to “Tired of Waiting for the Feds, Local Groups Target Menthol Cigarettes”

  1. Vivian Jenkins Nelsen

    I read the article with great interest and so appreciate the work of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC). Having served on the board of ClearWay Minnesota, I had the great good fortune to learn from Carol McGruder, Dr. Valerie Yerger and Dr. Phillip Gardiner over the years. They have made an incredible impact against the tobacco machine and saved the lives of many.
    Please keep us informed on the progress of limiting menthol reach into African American communities. I am equally concerned about our youth being exposed to harm.
    Vivian Jenkins Nelsen, Dir.
    The INTER-RACE Institute.

  2. Thomas E Kottke

    The best estimate for the city of St. Paul, Minnesota is that 2 individuals die every year for every tobacco retailer in the city. If this isn’t blood tobacco, I don’t know what is.

    In my 1985 Encyclopedia Britannica Health Update chapter, Smoking, I wrote that tobacco and tobacco control had the characteristics of a sine wave starting when Columbus first observed the use of tobacco in Cuba. Periods of popularity during which it was praised were followed by periods during which its hazards were recognized, followed again by periods of praise. The rebound was due to the tobacco industry reinventing itself and its products. This is exactly what we’ve seen with menthol and other flavorings.

    We are in a period of tobacco control, but we need to remain vigilant and active if we are to protect the health of ourselves from the inventiveness of the tobacco industry.

  3. Ora Hokes


    I am so appreciative and Blessed through the Anti-Commercial Tobacco (Menthol) training from Drs Gardiner, Yerger and Sister McGruder that I have been a beneficiary from over these past years. Their training and advocacy has provided me with invaluable information to become a stronger Anti-Tobacco Warrior on behalf of my community and others. They have provided resources to educate and inform elected officials to join in our grassroots efforts to eliminate and reduce the harmful effects of tobacco from our youth and those who are not aware of the “tricks” of the Tobacco industry in targeting the African American communities and other priority populations.

    Asante Sana (Thank-You)

    Minister Ora Hokes, Ed.D., CHW, The Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (GFMBC)

  4. Jeanne Weigum

    The tobacco industry has increased their involvement at the local level to unprecedented levels in their work to prevent policies that regulate flavors. The size of their investment to defeat a policy is a good measure of how effective they believe it will be in reducing tobacco use. In Saint Paul and Minneapolis they brought in additional lobbyists, pollsters and PR/grass roots organizer LS2 to augment their existing lobbyists. Bruceanne Phillips from LS2 and Tom Briant, mentioned in the article, are chief water-carriers for the tobacco industry. This is a powerful industry but we have demonstrated they can be beat. See http://beautifullieuglytruth.org/
    Jeanne Weigum, Association for Nonsmokers – MN.

  5. Valerie Yerger

    Myron, I’d like to respond to your question for Phil. Perhaps a recap of our roles is not necessary, but maybe a mention of our steady, ongoing involvement? Yes!

    As you noted, your earliest story was reported two years ago. We applaud you for helping to put our menthol work in the public eye when you did. However, when the momentum begins to pick up we notice a tendency to change the picture of who is tied to the work.

    No one believes targeting menthol cigarettes at the local level is a job for just a few folks, that it really will take a comprehensive, collective effort. But a mere mention of the AATCLC would have sufficed, even along with a photo of Matt Myers.

    Dr. Valerie Yerger, Founding member African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC)

  6. Myron Levin

    This is Myron Levin, editor of FairWarning:

    Thanks for your comment, Phil.

    We have reported on the menthol issue before–in 2015 and earlier this year.



    The three leaders of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council figured prominently in those stories. When we cover this or any other issue, we don’t attempt to describe in every story the roles of all of those involved. Do you think we should?

  7. Phillip Gardiner


    It is unfortunate that you didn’t speak to the actual movers and shakers that have made the removal of menthols from the local market place a national issue. It has been the tireless work of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), spearheaded by Carol McGruder, Dr. Valerie Yerger and Dr. Phillip Gardiner that has made this possible. Whether Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis or St. Paul, it has been the work of the AATCLC that has sparked work in this area. It is also unfortunate that Matt Myers failed to mention the AATCLC, who he knows are the ones actually doing this work.

    In the future, please look into the matter a little deeper.

    Phil Gardiner, Dr. P.H. Co-Chair African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC)

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