African American/Black

The Story of African American/Black

Tobacco is immensely destructive in African American/Black communities, causing more deaths than AIDS, accidents, and homicide combined.1 Tobacco companies’ manipulative tactics have led to African American/Black communities experiencing the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any racial or ethnic group in the United States.2

Big Tobacco systematically targets African American/Black communities by plastering neighborhood stores with deceptive ads, and offering discounts on their products.3 Studies have found there are up to 10x more tobacco ads in neighborhoods where people predominantly identify as African American/Black, particularly for menthol cigarettes, which Big Tobacco has specifically pushed in the community for years.4

Tobacco companies are now pushing other flavored tobacco products, such as little cigars and cigarillos, and pricing them lower in African American/Black neighborhoods.5 R.J. Reynolds, makers of Camel and Newport recently sponsored community events and paid for the travel costs of prominent community leaders such as  civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, to convince African American/Black communities that banning flavored tobacco, particularly menthol cigarettes, will continue the criminalization of people who are African American/Black. The truth is, flavor ban tobacco policies, similar to the 2016 California Tobacco 21 law, no longer penalize tobacco product purchasers, instead holding tobacco sellers responsible.

Clearly, Big Tobacco is not letting go of this community without a fight.

  1. Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans, 2013–2014, 2013, American Cancer Society
  2. Tobacco Use Among US Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups—African Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1998, Department of Health & Human Services.
  3. 2017 Story of Inequity, Indicator: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes by priority population group.
  4. Anderson, 2016 ; Moreland-Russel, 2013; Rising 2011; Disparities and Menthol Marketing, Additional Evidence in Support of Point of Sale Policies International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health — Open Access Journal
  5. 2017 Story of Inequity, Indicator: Average price for a single of the leading brand of flavored little cigar/cigarillo by priority population group.

The Proof is in the Data

Indicator
African American/Black
General Population
Adult Tobacco Use
1.Adult Cigarette Use: Adult cigarette smoking prevalence17.2%12.4%
  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. AskCHIS 2013-2014. http://ask.chis.ucla.edu.
2.Change in Adult Cigarette Use: Rate of change in adult cigarette smoking, 2007 to 2014-27.3%-16.1%
  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. AskCHIS 2007. http://ask.chis.ucla.edu.
  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. AskCHIS 2013-2014. http://ask.chis.ucla.edu.
3.Adult Tobacco Use: Adult tobacco use prevalence (including all tobacco products, e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes, other tobacco products)21.2%17.4%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2014.
Youth Tobacco Use
4.Youth Cigarette Use: Youth cigarette smoking prevalence2.3%4.3%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. California Student Tobacco Survey, 2015-2016.
5.Change in Youth Tobacco Use: Rate of change in youth cigarette smoking, 2002 to 2016-72%-73.4%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. California Student Tobacco Survey, 2001-2002.
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. California Student Tobacco Survey, 2015-2016.
6.Youth Tobacco Use: Youth tobacco use prevalence (including all tobacco products, e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes, other tobacco products)11.7%13.6%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. California Student Tobacco Survey, 2015-2016.
Availability of Tobacco & Tobacco Industry Influence
7.Cheapest Cigarettes: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes$4.43$4.58
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011-2015.
8.Flavored Little Cigar Price: Average price for a single flavored little cigar/cigarillo$0.92$0.97
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011-2015.
9.Tobacco Retail Licensing: Proportion of population protected by a strong tobacco retail licensing law50.3%36.6%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Policy Evaluation Tracking System, December 2015.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2009-2013.
10.Tobacco Stores: Density of stores selling tobacco per 100,000 residents10586
  • California Department of Tax and Fees Administration. California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer Licensees, October 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011-2015.
11.Flavored Tobacco: Proportion of stores that sell flavored non-cigarette tobacco products85.3%81.8%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011-2015.
12.Menthol Cigarettes: Proportion of stores that sell menthol cigarettes94.6%92.2%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011-2015.
13.Tobacco Advertising: Percentage of stores that keep 90% of their storefronts free from any advertising29.4%37%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011-2015.
Secondhand Smoke
14.Smoke-free Multi-unit Housing: Proportion of population protected by a smoke-free multi-unit housing law7.5%8.6%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Policy Evaluation Tracking System, December 2016.
  • U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2009-2013.
15.Smoke-free Homes: Proportion of smoke-free homes91.6%92.9%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2013-2014.
Cessation
16.California Smokers’ Helpline Enrollees: Proportion of California Smokers' Helpline enrollees15.2%7.8%
  • California Smokers' Helpline. Helpline Caller Intake Reports, July to December 2016.
17.Quitting: Proportion of smokers who tried quitting in the last 12 months60.9%60.6%
  • UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. AskCHIS 2013-2014. http://ask.chis.ucla.edu.
18.Doctor Advice to Quit: Proportion of smokers whose doctors advised them to quit52.6%47.3%
  • California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. Online California Adult Tobacco Survey, 2016.

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A Story of Inequity

Tobacco's Impact on Health Disparities in California

For decades, the tobacco industry has aggressively targeted California’s diverse communities with predatory practices. Internal documents from Big Tobacco outline their strategies – many of which are shocking attempts to peddle deadly products by way of product discounts and manipulative advertising. They even gave away free products to youth in the past. These tactics masquerade as support for communities under the guise of cultural celebration.

Unfortunately, the tactics have worked. Big Tobacco aggressively targeted communities and, as a result, some populations have higher rates of tobacco use, experience greater secondhand smoke exposure at work and at home, and have higher rates of tobacco-related disease than the general population.1

Addressing tobacco-related health inequities is key to California’s efforts to fight tobacco, our state’s number one cause of preventable death and disease.2 Tobacco use, pricing, and its impact across California were analyzed where significant disparities were found across various populations. See how Big Tobacco affects each community in the Nation’s most diverse state.

A Story Of Inequity Methodology >

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tobacco-Related Disparities
  2. Extinguishing the Tobacco Epidemic in California, April 11, 2017, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention