The Tobacco Industry Deliberately Targets Minority Populations

July 2, 2021

During the past decade, the tobacco industry has aggressively increased advertising and promotional campaigns placed in ethnic neighborhoods, deliberately targeting minority populations.

The tobacco industry specifically markets menthol cigarettes to the African-American community, which overwhelmingly favors this type of cigarette. Over 70 percent of African-American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, compared to 30 percent of Caucasian smokers.1

Since Latinos tend to be more brand-loyal, the tobacco industry targets the Latino market as well.2 The industry also sponsors local events, to give the impression that tobacco companies care about the Latino community.

As California’s Asian population becomes more acculturated, its smoking rates show a dramatic increase.3 The tobacco industry markets products to the Asian community with misleading messages of independence and Western values, which appeal to young people trying to fit in to American mainstream culture.

Studies have shown a higher concentration of tobacco advertising in magazines aimed towards African Americans, such as Jet and Ebony, than in similar magazines aimed at broader audiences, such as Time and People.4

References renameme

  1. Gardiner, P, "The African Americanization of Menthol Cigarette Use in the United States," Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Volume 6, Supplement 1. February 2004.
  2. National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organizations
  3. California Department of Public Health Data
  4. American Heart Association