Research Shows Cigarette Companies Target African Americans More Than Any Other Race In Ads

Studies find that African Americans are targeted more than any other race in cigarette ad campaigns. Here are some mind blowing statistics that can save someone’s life.

By: Amanda Anderson


“We don’t smoke that s_ _ _. 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

Tobacco companies spend millions of dollars each year on multiple campaigns hoping to turn Americans into loyal customers and everyday smokers. Though it is evident that they target every race and cultural background, recent research studies have concluded that African Americans are targeted more than any other race in cigarette ad campaigns.

Although cigarette companies have themselves become targets of numerous no smoking campaigns over the last decade by various non profit organizations, the number of African American smokers is mind blowing. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

African Americans make up around 12 percent of the 46 million adult smokers in 2008. While Caucasian smokers make up about 22 percent of the population, 21.3 percent of African Americans are cigarette smokers. A closer look at both genders finds that although white men smoke more cigarettes on average than black men, black men are 34 percent more likely to develop lung cancer. Black women also tend to smoke less cigarettes than white women, but tend to have similar lung cancer rates.

As a result of the prevalence of non-smoking campaigns, smoking has vastly declined among white cigarette smokers. Tobacco companies have now switched their focus on retaining African American smokers, and have become more aggressive in advertising pursuits targeting African Americans.

According to American Lung Association, the average African American youth is exposed to 559 tobacco ads, 617 advertisements for every black woman, and 892 ads for every African American adult. Since 1998, money spent on cigarette advertising campaigns targeting blacks has increased from 13 percent to 49 percent in 2005. It is clear that these companies are more interested in preserving the lives of whites than those of African Americans.

Cigarette companies have even used Hip-Hop as a means to coerce black teens to become smokers. The former Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company ran a campaign for Kool cigarettes featuring hip hop DJ competitions before becoming part of RJ Reynolds.

It is not surprising that many African Americans have lost loved ones due to lung cancer. I witnessed the danger of long time cigarette smoking as I lost my Grandfather to lung cancer last year. I can also state in absolute certainty that the effectiveness of youth targeted ad campaigns is devastating. In high school, I knew many teen smokers. Sadly today, most of those teen smokers are now everyday smokers in their mid 20s.

If you have any loved ones addicted to smoking or you yourself find it difficult to quit smoking, consider these statistics as reasons to stop. As the numbers show, it is likely that you will become diagnosed with lung cancer. And although cigarette smoking kills people of every race, African Americans tend to be affected the most.





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