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The African Americanization of menthol cigarette use in the United States

The African Americanization of menthol cigarette use in the United States

  1. bluntshell
    Today, over 70% of African American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, compared with 30% of White smokers.
    This unique social phenomenon was principally occasioned by the tobacco industry’s masterful manipulation of the
    burgeoning Black, urban, segregated, consumer market in the 1960s. Through the use of television and other
    advertising media, coupled with culturally tailored images and messages, the tobacco industry ‘‘African
    Americanized’’ menthol cigarettes. The tobacco industry successfully positioned mentholated products, especially
    Kool, as young, hip, new, and healthy. During the time that menthols were gaining a large market share in the
    African American community, the tobacco industry donated funds to African American organizations hoping to blunt
    the attack on their products. Many of the findings in this article are drawn from the tobacco industry documents
    disclosed following the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998. After a short review of the origins and growth of
    menthols, this article examines some key social factors that, when considered together, led to disproportionate use of
    mentholated cigarettes by African Americans compared with other Americans. Unfortunately, the long-term impact
    of the industry’s practice in this community may be partly responsible for the disproportionately high tobacco-related
    disease and mortality among African Americans generally and African American males particularly.