Tobacco marketing and African Americans

The issue of tobacco marketing and African Americans refers to the practice of customizing tobacco products and advertising techniques specifically to African American consumers. It is most commonly analyzed through mentholated cigarettes, as it represents 47% of black adult smokers and 84% of teen black smokers.


African Americans are the only ethnic group to be disproportionately caused by chronic illnesses and preventable diseases . Studies indicate that an estimated 1.6 million African Americans under the age of 18 who are alive today will become regular smokers. Therefore, about 500,000 of these individuals will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. [1]

The vernacular origins of cool stemmed directly from the jazz culture of the 1950s and 1960s. It was during this time that the term was defined as “The Birth of Cool”. The Kool brand capitalized on this new culture of “coolness” in African-American culture that evolved from the Davis’ jazz movement. [2]They drew on the idea of ​​”coolness” to define their brand, Kool. It was then associated with a positive, glamorous self-image which embodied the idea of ​​cool found in jazz. The brand’s first tagline was: “To be cool you smoke Kool”. Later, they are more infused with the idea of ​​cool and glamorous with the line “Smoking has Kool? Like riding a Rolls Royce”. B & W used Kool to substantiate the idea of ​​a cool lifestyle.


Geographic targeting

In a 2002 study, it was found that the majority of African Americans were more likely to be in the market than they were in the United States. [1] [3] Through advertisements of Kool, B & W capitalized on many African Americans’ positive view of mentholation and its medicinal properties. Philip Morris USA introduced a Marlboro Smooth to insinuate the reduction of menthol in comparison with Kool. [1] RJ Reynolds promoted its brand of mentholated cigarettes, Salem, in an effort to achieve the same results. [1]

A 2008 study in California reported that the number of cigarette ads per store, and the proportion of African Americans. In 2007, there were 2.6 times more tobacco advertisements per person in areas with an African American majority. Moreover, prior to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreementban on tobacco billboard advertising in 1999, there was a significant increase in tobacco related billboards in ethnic communities over white communities. Billboards were found mostly in lower income areas with African Americans. Here, there was a 70% higher chance that billboards were tobacco related. In St. Louis alone, 20% of billboard advertising and supplemental billboards were published in the United States. % in 2005. To this effect, recent studies have found that more cigarettes are placed in African American magazines, such as Ebony and Jet , than magazines like Timeand People . Tobacco companies deliberately used research African American and menthol to gear advertisement African American Communities. [1] [3]

As a result of such targeting practices, the average African adult has been exposed to the problem of youth, 559 ads. [1] Among other adults and young smokers, Newport , Marlboro and Kool are the most popular brands. About 42% of black adults smoke Newport, while 84% of young African Americans smoke this brand as well. African Americans are the top consumer of all mentholated products. Many products have been made for African American consumers such as Marlboro Menthol Shorts, which were advertised as “exquisitely designed for the African American lung.” [4]

Cultural targeting

Kool began using hip-hop brands with popular disk jockeys emblazoned on the packs of Kool Menthol Caribbean Chill to entice minorities. [4]During the period of 1995 – 1999, tobacco companies sponsored at least 2733 events, programs, and organizations throughout the United States and the minimum total funding of these sponsorships was $ 365.4 million. The sponsorships involved numerous small, community-based organizations that have received funding and larger organizations, many of these were part of the public health infrastructure. This article is for the purpose of this study, to seek alternative funding sources for organizations and organizations, and to consider promoting alternative funding. sources. [5]

Social mobility

On the heels of the Civil Rights Movement and the mist of the Vietnam War , these companies have taken advantage of the new opportunities for African American upward mobility and marketed toward these desires. Inside the 1967 issue of Ebony magazine, “Negro Youth: Anger, Anxious and Aware”, Kool bought an ad behind the cover, which illustrated a broken brick wall with an advertisement of luxury and leisure that said “come up to the Kool taste” . Ads represented an assimilation of aspirations, with males being tall, dark and handsome, and females had light skin and straight hair.

Legal issues

State Attorneys General vs. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.

The attorneys general of New York, Maryland, and Illinois filed suit against the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. over the marketing of Kool cigarettes. The lawsuits had asserted that the company’s 2004 Kool MIXX promotion, which was billed by the company as a celebration of hip-hop music and culture, violated the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) by targeting African American youth. The Kool Mixx campaign featured images of disc jockeys, young rappers, and dancers on cigarette packs and in advertising. All of the contests and events held appealed to the youth, especially African American. [1] At the same time, B & W was introducing a new line of flavors using images of African Americans and appealing themes.

A settlement was reached with RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., which acquired the assets of Brown & Williamson in July. Under the settlement, RJ Reynolds agreed on the future of “Kool MIXX” promotions, and agreed to pay $ 1.46 million to be used for youth smoking prevention purposes. This is the first time that the industry has agreed to be limited in the MSA. [6]

Under the settlement, RJ Reynolds agreed to significant restrictions on all future Kool MIXX promotions, including:

  • Prohibiting use of the words Kool , Mixx or House of Menthol on any merchandise;
  • Prohibiting the use of hip-hop songs and interactive games on the CD-ROM;
  • Limiting the distribution of CD-ROMs to adulthood;
  • Prohibiting the sale of special packs in retail stores, and
  • Prohibiting the separate House of Menthol website; and
  • Ensuring that any Kool MIXX print [6]

Brown vs. Philip Morris, Inc.

In the case of Brown versus Philip Morris, Inc., the Reverend Jesse Brown. The Brown complaint states that “Defendant has for many years targeted African Americans and their communities with specific advertising to use mentholated tobacco products.” [2] Brown raised the issues of discrimination, niche marketing, and the “staggering loss of life, premature disability, disease, and economic loss” that were the result of the “Tobacco Companies International and Racially Discrimination . ”

Brown contended that menthol cigarettes contained enhanced dangers over other cigarettes. Brown began by explaining that the ingredient contains benzopyrene , which are carcinogenic when smoked. Second, he argued that mentholated cigarettes contain higher nicotine and tarlevels than non-mentholated cigarettes. Thirdly, Brown claims that menthol increases the risk of smoking and increases the smoking ability of tobacco smoke, increasing the addictive properties of smoking and decreasing the lungs’ ability to rid itself of carcinogenic components of smoke. Based on the evidence submitted in Brown, mentholated cigarettes account for between 60-75 percent of cigarettes smoked by African Americans and 90 percent of African American youth who smoke, smoke menthols.

The case was dismissed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2001, claiming the effect of reverend civil claims, providing a radical departure from defective products. By claiming transgression of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 , the complainants of the Brown follow suit to show the unconstitutionality of targeting African Americans with defective products. The Brown complaint has been made to consider that the menthol cigarettes were still posing to a non-African American as well as African American community.

See also

  • Tobacco advertising


  1. ^ Jump up to:g “Tobacco marketing company to African-Americans” . Foster Folly News . February 22, 2010 . Retrieved April 29, 2010 . permanent dead link ]
  2. ^ Jump up to:b Jain, Sarah SL (2003). “Come Up to the Kool Taste”: African American Upward Mobility and the Semiotics of Smoking Menthols. ” Public Culture : 295-322.
  3. ^ Jump up to:b Luke Douglas; Esmundo, Emily; Bloom, Yael (2000). “Smoke Signs: Patterns of Tobacco Billboard Advertising in a Metropolitan Region” . Tobacco Control . 9 (1): 16-23. doi : 10.2307 / 20207731 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Connolly, GN (2004). “Cover Essay: Sweet and Spicy Flavors: New Brands for Minorities and Youth” . Tobacco Control . 13 (3): 211-212. doi : 10.2307 / 20208243 .
  5. Jump up^ Rosenberg, N. Jennifer; Siegel, Michael (2001). “Use of Corporate Sponsorship as a Tobacco Marketing Tool: A Review of Tobacco Industry Sponsorship in the US, 1995-99” . Tobacco Control . 10 (3): 239-246. doi : 10.2307 / 20207931 .
  6. ^ Jump up to:b “Landmark settlement of” Kool Mixx “tobacco lawsuits” . . 2004-10-06.