Detroit Funeral Raises Awareness On Harmful Effects Of Menthol

Detroit, MI -  /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday of this week, a hearse wrapped in anti-menthol messages will pull up to the Belt in downtown Detroit, carrying Mike "Menthol" Wilson in a casket that looks like a cigarette box. His life will be eulogized by Rev. "No Mo Smokes," supported by a full choir. Then Mike "Menthol" Wilson will be sent home with a New Orleans-style second line band.

Organized by the Making It Count Community Development Corporation (MIC), this satiric memorial service will be held Friday September 24, from 6p to 10p at the Belt located at 1274 Library St. (Alley) (behind 1234 Library St) in Downtown Detroit where roughly 100 people will gather to bid menthol farewell. There will be three services, each lasting one hour.

The service will kick-off an aggressive statewide campaign designed to heighten awareness of the health risks and social inequities related to menthol and other flavored tobacco products. The in-your-face campaign will target southeast Michigan along with urban communities across the state, raising awareness of how the tobacco industry has targeted Black and Brown communities with the most addictive product on the market. The campaign kicks off in Detroit, and will feature billboard, television, radio, and digital ads that will span the state.

"It's no coincidence that Black and Brown communities smoke menthol and flavored tobacco products almost exclusively," said Minou Jones, CEO of MIC. "It's also no coincidence that more than 72,000 African Americans are diagnosed with tobacco-related cancers each year, and nearly 45,000 African Americans die from smoking related diseases each year."

Jones said that while the harmful impacts of menthol on Black and Brown communities is no laughing matter, she believes that the levity of this event will help people to understand, and then take action to protect their communities.

Menthol will be eulogized by the Rev. No Mo' Smokes also known as actor/comedian Michael McDaniel. A gospel choir will celebrate Menthol's life with tobacco-themed songs and The Gabriel Brass Band, a New Orleans-style second line band, will perform slow drags in remembrance of Menthol at 7 p.m. The service will be repeated at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

"We were saddened by the news that Mike "Menthol" Wilson took his last breath after several hard gasps and puffs," said Rev. No Mo' Smokes. "He died the way he lived. With a cigarette dangling out of the left side of his mouth. So, let's celebrate his life by saying we won't be fooled by Big Tobacco No Mo'!"

Tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans—heart disease, cancer, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For decades, Big Tobacco marketed menthol cigarettes to African Americans by giving them away in neighborhoods, at festivals and other events. While the use of tobacco products is about equal among Blacks and Whites, African Americans are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes, inhaling the smoke deeper into their lungs and making it more difficult to quit," said N. Charles Anderson, President of the Detroit Urban League.

"African Americans are the largest users of menthol products in the nation," Anderson said. "We want people to understand the 'why' of this and how Big Tobacco intentionally targeted the Black community."

The public is welcome to express their condolences to those who loved Menthol and remember the loved ones who died or are chronically ill from tobacco-related diseases.

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