Tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hot and Cool Cafe, 4331 Degnan Blvd., the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), The LOOP, The GREEN Foundation and Prevention Institute presents “What’s Menthol Got To Do With It? Everything!” It is a spoken word contest focused on the negative impacts tobacco and menthol has on communities of color during the Great American Smokeout 2018. The Leimert Park event will showcase poets, writers, and rappers performing their original pieces linking tobacco and social injustice.

“The Great American Smokeout has provided an opportunity for individuals, community groups, businesses, health care providers, and others to encourage people to use the date to make a plan to quit. Now, we are working to get the collective energy of our poets and artists into the movement,” said Ernesta Wright, executive director of the G.R.E.E.N. Initiative.

Research shows that African Americans and residents in low income communities are one of the main target groups of menthol cigarette advertising. A report from the American Cancer Society states that smoking-related illnesses are the number one cause of death in the African-American community, surpassing all other causes of death, including AIDS, homicide, diabetes, and accidents. By 2020, the African American population will have suffered more than 4,700 excess deaths due to menthol in cigarettes says the Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.

The “What’s Menthol Got To Do With It? Everything!” spoken-word contest is designed to increase awareness of the tobacco industry’s negative effects on the African American community. Contestants will share how Big Tobacco has effected people of color through the art of spoken word. The first, second, and third place winners will recieve a cash prize ranging from $300 to $100.  The winners will be selected by a panel of judges and will be evaluated for their originality, educational content, and delivery.

To learn more about “What’s Menthol Got To Do With It? Everything!” visit the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council’s Facebook page @AATCLC. Visit http://www.savingblacklives.org/ to learn more about The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.

The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), a nonprofit consortium of organizations dedicated to research, community collaboration and public engagement, is working to stop the preventable deaths of African Americans due to the consumption of menthol-flavored cigarettes engineered by the tobacco companies to addict Black people and others including Asian, Pacific Islanders, Latino, and LGBTQ populations.