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The CDC is encouraging people to quit smoking menthol cigarettes

 The portraits of several former smokers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A CDC campaign uses the voices of former smokers to encourage people to quit.

The agency says the menthol flavor gets people hooked easier and makes it harder for them to break the addiction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging anyone who smokes menthol cigarettes to quit.

CDC researcher Kristy Marynak said that even as more people quit smoking, the use of menthol cigarettes is growing among smokers.

Marynak said the tobacco industry "adds menthol because it has both numbing and cooling properties that allow you to inhale smoke more easily, and they aggressively target their marketing to Black and the LGBTQI+ community."

CDC: Tips From Former Smokers - Angie P.: Smoking and Identity - URL

Marynak gave the example of a former smoker who took up smoking because she thought it would help her cope with the fear that people around her would reject her because she's gay.

In a video produced by the CDC, Angie P. said she loved both of her parents, but idolized her mom. And when her mother quit smoking menthol cigarettes, she took them out of the trash and started smoking them herself when she was 13.

Although she had sung since she was a young girl, she said the smoking robbed her of her singing voice.

Now Angie is joining the chorus of voices of former smokers, encouraging others to quit.

"It made me angry that something had that much power over me that, left to my own devices, I couldn't quit," she said in the video.

A conversation she overheard at a restaurant helped her finally kick the habit after she'd already purposed to do so.

"I overheard a guy talking about a program for quit(ting) smoking. And I did what he did," Angie said. "And they gave me medications. They gave me a counselor. And to be perfectly honest, I don't think it would have worked any other way than that for me."

Tobacco Free Florida offers tips and free tools to help smokers finally kick the habit. You can get details here.

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Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts, culture and history.