Black Americans currently bear a tremendous burden of morbidity and mortality from tobacco use. They also have the highest exposure rates to pro-tobacco mass-media messages, and these exposures predict their smoking initiation.
The tobacco industry has long targeted racial groups, especially African Americans, Latinos, and women. These groups have broad inequities in social, economic, and political opportunities that make them more vulnerable to the industry.
Why They Are Targeting Black Communities
Tobacco companies targeting black communities with deceptive marketing to drive sales. The tobacco industry exploits these communities’ cultures, beliefs, and traditions to promote a sense of cultural affinity for tobacco products and oppose public health interventions that would address inequitable harms associated with tobacco use.
Black people are, therefore, less likely than white people to quit smoking successfully and are more likely to die from smoking-related illnesses. This disparity has become more severe in recent decades.
Tobacco control policies and initiatives must be expanded to all communities to reduce this gap. It includes smoke-free college and campus policies and comprehensive smoke-free policies for public housing and other areas of high poverty.
Providing youth with access to smoke-free spaces and leadership opportunities is also essential. For example, the Truth Initiative Tobacco/Vape-free College Program has helped establish and expand smoke-free policies in Historically Black colleges, universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
In addition, educating the community about the specific strategies tobacco makers employ to target African Americans is crucial. The tobacco industry uses various techniques to attract African Americans to its brands, including social media, music, and television advertising. A Stanford study showed that these tactics were more common in ads directed at African American smokers than those targeted at other groups.
Historically, the tobacco industry has marketed menthol cigarettes to African Americans, women, and people new to smoking. Research shows that that strategy paid off as menthol cigarettes became the favored choice of cigarette consumers in those groups.
Despite the FDA’s recent stance against menthol, it remains on the market and is a significant contributor to the tobacco epidemic. Menthol is a flavoring additive that can mask the harshness of tobacco smoke, making it more addictive. It is also a contributing factor to many of the ill health effects of tobacco, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
In the mid-20th century, tobacco companies were a significant part of promoting menthol in Black neighborhoods, giving out free cigarettes and selling them at lower prices than non-menthols. The industry also used pervasive marketing tactics, like sponsoring community events, magazine advertising, and retail promotions.
According to the National Black Tobacco Survey, 85% of African American smokers choose menthol cigarettes. That is a higher rate than among white, Hispanic, and Asian smokers.
The tobacco industry has continued targeting the African American community through menthol-flavored products like cigars. This trend is a crucial reason why tens of thousands of premature deaths occur each year in this country, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Taxes are a way of raising revenue to fund public works and services and build and maintain the infrastructure used in a country. Without this money, governments would not be able to meet the demands of their society, and the economy could not grow.
In a country, taxes are collected from all citizens and businesses to fund social projects like health care and education. These funds are then deposited in the government’s budget and used to meet their needs.
Moreover, taxes help to deter people from doing undesirable things. For example, to discourage people from buying liquor or tobacco products, governments impose high excise levies and increase the price of these products.
Tobacco companies have long targeted racial and ethnic communities through advertising, promotions, sponsorships, and other marketing tactics. These strategies have resulted in a deep racial divide that persists and drives disproportionate harm among Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.
In addition, the industry’s racist origins have contributed to its exploitation of marginalized groups. For instance, tobacco companies misappropriate and devalue the cultural heritage of Middle Eastern and South Asian countries through their promotion of waterpipes as “ancient” and “cultural tradition.” This tactic also challenges public health interventions, such as 100% smoke-free policies.
Advertising is a powerful tool for persuading people to buy products or services. It is done by using words and images to show how good and wrong a competitor’s product is.
Black populations have traditionally been the target of tobacco industry advertising. They target them with menthol cigarettes and sponsorships of events that promote smoking, such as jazz and hip-hop festivals.
Research has found that African Americans are exposed to a higher density and concentration of tobacco-related advertisements than non-African American populations. It may mean they are unique targets for the tobacco industry, and policymakers should consider this when designing future advertising policies.
A recent study examined how tobacco companies target black communities with their menthol cigarettes and promotions. They found that prices of menthol cigarettes were often lower at stores in communities where the census tracks more black residents.
As a result, many African Americans choose to purchase menthol cigarettes. It has led to a disproportionate amount of deaths in this group.
A recent Stanford study also found that menthol cigarette ads were likelier to target Black people than other groups. They used themes that appealed to the youth’s desire for adventure, their sense of independence, and their desire to be thin. They also used deceptive marketing that claimed menthol cigarettes would relieve asthma.