African-American Smokers and Menthol


If you have ever looked through an Ebony Magazine, JET, or other African-American interest magazine  since the 1980s, the ads above may look familiar. Like most other companies and industries, “Big Tobacco” uses targeted marketing to advertise their products – specifically menthol cigarettes – to certain populations.

As African-American History Month closes, here is some information on the history of tobacco marketing within the black community.

Up to 88% of African-American smokers use menthols. Menthol cigarettes make smoking an easier habit to pick up and a more difficult habit to quit.

The tobacco industry conducted marketing research to know how to best advertise menthol tobacco products to the African-American community, heavily advertised in African-American neighborhoods, and sponsored events catering to the black community.  Menthol cigarettes like Newports are so commonly advertised to African-Americans, in fact, that black youth are much more likely to be able to identify Newport packaging than their peers of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

If you have African-American friends, family, or colleagues, share this information with them! It may help bring someone a step closer to quitting smoking.

See the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network‘s site for more information on African-Americans and tobacco use.

Sources: The American Lung AssociationThe Truth Initiative, and MinnPost