Researchers are saying that tobacco brands are targeting specific individuals, African American teenagers and youth, especially those that come from low-income families. Researchers performed studies that received funding from the state because of the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program. These researches found out that there was a larger presence of cigarette advertisements near the high schools in area of California in which students were primarily African American and came from low-income families. And, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the tobacco industry spend about $10 billion on advertisements and marketing strategies in 2008 alone, which means they could be spending a lot more ever since.
Lisa Henriksen, who presented this new found research, said that this is a major problem, as the tobacco industry is targeting people who come from communities that already have a disadvantage, which is ultimately causing a huge health problem and concern. Henriksen also points out that because menthol is an ingredient in cigarettes, it becomes easier for people to get the hang of smoking and it becomes harder for them to be able to quit the habit.
The research that Henriksen worked on shows that as the majority of black students increased at certain high schools in the California area, the amount of advertisements relating to tobacco usage increased as well. The major companies doing the advertising were Newport and Marlboro, which are two of the most popular cigarette brands in the United States, especially for people who are under the age of 21. The research also showed that the communities in Los Angeles that were known for being full with minorities and also known for being poor communities were often targeted much more for tobacco advertisements.
Henriksen has been studying menthol cigarettes and the marketing of these cigarettes for quite some time and was able to find distinct evidence that proves these tobacco companies are, in fact, targeting African American youth. In fact, her research shows that African American students were able to identify different advertisements that were created by Newport and that they were more likely to start smoking. Henriksen says that this is a terrible burden put on low-income communities and that people are being targeted based on their color and the community in which they live. The news is troubling, especially because the cigarette brands are not only targeting people based on their color, they are targeting them based on their age, not caring that these people are not even old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes on their own. When questioned about the findings from the research studies of tobacco related marketing, the creators of the Newport cigarettes declined to comment on the findings.Tobacco Brands Are Targeting Young Blacks by Harrison Barnes