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The tobacco industry: targeted discrimination and prejudice

The tobacco industry pretends to care about social justice, civil rights, and cultural issues to convince specific communities15161718 – like Black and Hispanic, LGBTQIA+, and low-income – that Big Tobacco’s on their side. In fact, they use predatory and manipulative marketing and even gave out free products to hook communities on their deadly products.19 The industry’s strategies, which are rooted in racism, homophobia, and discrimination, disproportionately harm historically excluded populations.

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We Are Not Profit

For too long the tobacco industry has been strategically killing the Black community with menthol cigarettes.20212223

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Tobacco industry’s damage

The tobacco industry currently spends billions each year on slick marketing tactics1 and political influence2 so they can profit off death and disease.
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Even for people who don’t use tobacco, there can be deadly consequences.3
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The industry calls kids their “replacement customers.”4 Big Tobacco sentences them to a lifetime of addiction and disease.
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This racist and unjust industry has strategically targeted certain communities with deadly products and manipulative messaging.5
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No one’s safe from the environmental damage6 and health risks7891011 from toxic tobacco waste and its plastic pollution.12
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Hold the Industry Accountable

California has already protected people from other harmful products,1314 and it’s time to hold the tobacco industry to the same standards.
  1. Federal Trade Commission. Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report for 2020. Washington, D.C.: Federal Trade Commission. 2021.
  2. OpenSecrets. Industry Profile: Tobacco. Opensecrets.org. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/industries/summary?cycle=2021&id=A02. Accessed March 16, 2022.
  3. Office on Smoking and Health (US). The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US); 2006.
  4. R.J. Reynolds. Younger Adult Smokers: Strategies and Opportunities. https://www.industrydocuments.ucsf.edu/docs/rkvk0045. 1984 February 29.
  5. Anderson SJ. Marketing of menthol cigarettes and consumer perceptions: a review of tobacco industry documents. Tob Control. 2011;20 Suppl 2(Suppl_2):ii20-ii28. doi:10.1136/tc.2010.041939.
  6. Break Free From Plastic. Branded Vol. III: Demanding corporate accountability for plastic pollution. 2020.
  7. Poma A, Vecchiotti G, Colafarina S, et al. In Vitro Genotoxicity of Polystyrene Nanoparticles on the Human Fibroblast Hs27 Cell Line. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2019;9(9):1299. Published 2019 Sep 11. doi:10.3390/nano9091299.
  8. Zarus GM, Muianga C, Hunter CM, Pappas RS. A review of data for quantifying human exposures to micro and nanoplastics and potential health risks. Sci Total Environ. 2021;756:144010. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144010.
  9. Jacob H, Besson M, Swarzenski PW, Lecchini D, Metian M. Effects of Virgin Micro- and Nanoplastics on Fish: Trends, Meta-Analysis, and Perspectives. Environ Sci Technol. 2020;54(8):4733-4745. doi:10.1021/acs.est.9b05995.
  10. Ziv-Gal A, Flaws JA. Evidence for bisphenol A-induced female infertility: a review (2007-2016). Fertil Steril. 2016;106(4):827-856. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.06.027.
  11. Campanale C, Massarelli C, Savino I, Locaputo V, Uricchio VF. A Detailed Review Study on Potential Effects of Microplastics and Additives of Concern on Human Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(4):1212. Published 2020 Feb 13. doi:10.3390/ijerph17041212.
  12. Belzagui F, Buscio V, Gutiérrez-Bouzán C, Vilaseca M. Cigarette butts as a microfiber source with a microplastic level of concern. Science of The Total Environment. 2021;762:144165. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144165.
  13. Governor Newsom Signs Legislation Making California First in the Nation to Ban Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics [press release]. gov.ca.gov. https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/09/30/governor-newsom-signs-legislation-making-california-first-in-the-nation-to-ban-toxic-chemicals-in-cosmetics/. Published September 30, 2020. Accessed March 23, 2022.
  14. Landmark California law bans 'forever chemicals' in products for infants, children [press release]. ewg.org. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news-release/2021/10/landmark-california-law-bans-forever-chemicals-products-infants. Published October 5, 2021. Accessed March 23, 2022.
  15. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Industry Marketing. cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/tobacco_industry/marketing/index.htm. Reviewed May 14, 2021. Accessed March 15, 2022.
  16. Yerger VB, Malone RE. African American leadership groups: smoking with the enemy. Tob Control. 2002;11(4):336–345. doi:10.1136/tc.11.4.336.
  17. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco Use and Hispanics. tobaccofreekids.org. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0134.pdf. Published December 20, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022.
  18. Truth Initiative. How tobacco companies use experiential marketing. truthinitiative.org. https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/tobacco-industry-marketing/how-tobacco-companies-use-experiential-marketing. Published June 26, 2018. Accessed March 15, 2022.
  19. Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. Evans v. Lorillard: A Bittersweet Victory Against the Tobacco Industry. https://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/tclc-Evans-v-Lorillard-case-study-2016.pdf. Updated August 2016. Accessed September 17, 2020.
  20. Robinson RG, Sutton CD, James DA, Orleans CT. Pathways to Freedom: Winning the Fight against Tobacco. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Atlanta, GA; 2003.
  21. Primack BA, Bost JE, Land SR, Fine MJ. Volume of tobacco advertising in African American markets: systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Rep. 2007;122(5):607-15.
  22. Resnick EA, Jackson KL, Barker DC, Chaloupka FJ. Cigarette Pricing Differs by U.S. Neighborhoods—A BTG Research Brief. Chicago, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2012.
  23. Lee JG, Henriksen L, Rose SW, Moreland-Russell S, Ribisl KM. A Systematic Review of Neighborhood Disparities in Point-of-Sale Tobacco Marketing. Am J Public Health. 2015;105(9):e8-18.