“We don’t smoke that sh*t. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and stupid.” – R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Executive
If you watch television, you’ve probably seen commercials for Truth Initiative; however, there’s one in particular that sheds some light on tobacco companies and their marketing in low-income neighborhoods and black communities. The video shares that Big Tobacco advertises 10 times more in black neighborhoods than other neighborhoods, and it is no coincidence.
In 2016, Quamiir Trice and Julia Osage, Truth Initiative youth fellows from Howard University, garnered more than 300 signatures in support of Howard’s tobacco-free policy. Howard along with 40 other Historically Black Colleges and Universities received a grant from Truth’s Tobacco-Free HBCU Campus Initiative, which aims to enlighten one of the most vulnerable groups– Black college students– on the dangers of smoking. However, students are exposed to tobacco advertisements way before they even step foot on their campus.
On every corner in black low-income neighborhoods, there is always a corner store; however, the advertising on the outside is what is more important in this case. Tobacco advertisements consume the windows of local liquor and convenience stores in black communities in order to boost sales and let consumers know the store carries brands like KOOL, Newport, Camel, etc. In 2014, research found that there was an average of 30 advertisements to market tobacco companies.
According to a study done in 2013 of retail outlets in Washington, DC, formally known as Chocolate City due to the amount of African Americans living there, found that exterior advertising for little cigars and cigarillos is significantly more prevalent in African American neighborhoods. A similar study done in 2015 reinforced these findings for exterior advertising of all tobacco products in DC.
Cigarette smoking causes about 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S., which is about one of every five deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco companies’ so called, “target market” is definitely targeting black Americans in all the wrong ways which is why Truth Initiative is so necessary.
Truth Initiative® is the largest non-profit public health organization in America that is dedicated to stopping Tobacco by making communities in America more knowledgeable about tobacco.
Make a difference in your community today by becoming more knowledgeable about Tobacco and how you can stop tobacco usage. To find out more about Truth Initiative and the dangers of Tobacco, check out their website.
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