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

[ Data last updated 10/27/2020 ]

Indicator
African American/Black
General Population
Adult Tobacco Use
1.Adult Cigarette Use: Adult cigarette smoking prevalence12.2%10.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
2.Change in Adult Cigarette Use: Rate of change in adult cigarette smoking, 2014 to 2018-29.1%-13.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2013-14. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
3.Adult Tobacco Use: Adult tobacco use prevalence (e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)20.3%18.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2018. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Youth Tobacco Use
4.Youth Cigarette Use: Youth cigarette smoking prevalence1.2%2.0%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2017-18. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
5.Change in Youth Cigarette Use: Rate of change in youth cigarette smoking, 2016 to 2018-33.3%-53.5%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2017-18. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2015-16. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
6.Youth Tobacco Use: Youth tobacco use prevalence (e.g. cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.9.9%12.7%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2017-18. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
Availability of Tobacco & Tobacco Industry Influence
7.Cheapest Cigarettes: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes$7.21$7.11
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
8.Flavored Little Cigar Price: Average price for a single flavored little cigar/cigarillo$0.92$0.97
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2011-2015. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
9.Tobacco Retail Licensing: Proportion of population protected by a strong tobacco retail licensing lawThe estimate is 10.0 percentage point higher than the California general population.49.9%36.9%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, December 2018. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2013-2017. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
10.Tobacco Stores: Density of stores selling tobacco per 100,000 residentsThe estimate is 10.0 stores per 100,000 higher than the California general population.90.478.0
  • California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer Licensees, May 2020. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
11.Flavored Tobacco: Proportion of stores that sell flavored non-cigarette tobacco products80.6%81.8%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
12.Menthol Cigarettes: Proportion of stores that sell menthol cigarettes85.6%88.3%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
13.Tobacco Advertising: Proportion of stores that keep 90% of their storefront free from any advertising39.3%40.1%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
Cannabis Use
14.Adult Cannabis Use: Adult cannabis use prevalence19.8%16.1%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
15.Youth Cannabis Use: Youth cannabis use prevalence17.4%14.7%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2017-18. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
Secondhand Smoke
16.Adult Secondhand Tobacco Exposure: Proportion of adults exposed to secondhand smoke53.2%52.9%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
17.Youth Secondhand Tobacco Exposure: Proportion of youth exposed to secondhand smoke or vape44.2%46.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2018. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
18.Smokefree Multi-unit Housing: Proportion of population protected by a smokefree multi-unit housing law27.1%29.0%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, December 2018. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2013-2017. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
19.Smokefree Homes: Proportion of adults with smokefree homes83.6%88.0%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2018. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Cessation
20.California Smokers' Helpline Enrollees: Proportion of California Smokers' Helpline enrolleesThe estimate is significantly higher than the population's make-up of California's adult smokers.15.8%6.3%of smokers are
African American/Black
  • California Smokers' Helpline Caller Intake Reports, 2019. San Diego, CA: California Smokers' Helpline, University of California, San Diego.
21.Quitting: Proportion of smokers who tried quitting in the last 12 months56.3%56.2%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
22.Doctor Advice to Quit: Proportion of smokers whose doctors advised them to quit63.5%46.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Organizations around the state are working
to fix tobacco-related health disparities.

Find out more about what each organization is doing to fight the
tobacco industry's predatory tactics.

How you can help

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Fix It!

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