For too long Big Tobacco has been strategically killing the Black community with menthol cigarettes. It’s time to make things right.
You already know they hang more ads in our neighborhoods, and offer more discounts in our stores. But here’s what you may not know – Big Tobacco is co-opting Black community voices to keep these deadly products on the market by exploiting issues that truly matter to our community, all so they can protect their bottom line. Scroll for more.
A joint investigation has learned that Newport cigarette maker Reynolds American has hired Black lobbyists and influenced grass-roots groups to help fan fears among Black communities about menthol bans.
This exploitation is most apparent when considering the wildly disproportionate usage of menthol cigarettes among Black Americans. For decades now, the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed menthol products to Black communities.
Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement have put new pressure on Congress and the White House to reduce racial health disparities. And there are few starker examples than this: Black smokers smoke less but die of heart attacks, strokes and other causes linked to tobacco use at higher rates than white smokers do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Big Tobacco has mercilessly targeted African Americans since the 1960s with the heavy marketing of menthol cigarettes. In California, 70 percent of African American adults who smoke consume menthol cigarettes compared to just 18 percent of white adults who smoke.
Tobacco kills. That’s no secret. But Big Tobacco’s insidious marketing tactics use menthol-flavored products to keep African Americans — and especially young people — hooked on tobacco. It’s time we protect our children and communities by cutting Big Tobacco off at the source.
Big Tobacco knowingly sentences us to lifetimes of sickness, disease, and early death.* They don’t see our beauty, our individuality, or our rich history – only how rich we can make them.