Rural communities are full of hardworking people who value strength and independence. Tobacco companies understand this, so they package and advertise their deadly products to play to values of self-reliance and resiliency with images such as cowboys, hunters and racecar drivers. Big Tobacco aggressively markets cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, like chew, in rural areas, taking advantage of weaker tobacco retail licensing laws in rural communities.1 This has contributed to increased smokeless tobacco use rates among high school males in rural areas, exceeding the national average.2
Because of these practices, rural counties have some of the highest smoking rates in California,3 and rural residents start smoking at an earlier age.4 Rural counties also suffer higher rates of lung cancer,5 and smoking causes 80-90% of lung cancer cases. That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure rural communities are truly free from Big Tobacco’s deadly, addictive products.