While overall smoking rates continue to decline, tobacco use remains higher among African Americans and the LGBTQ community due in part to targeted marketing by tobacco companies. As Azure’De Williams, Co-Chair of the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Movement Coalition and Executive Director of the Milwaukee Area Health Education Center, writes in a recent op-ed,
“The proliferation of menthol cigarettes, which are more dangerous than non-menthol cigarettes, in the black community is no accident. Using culturally-tailored messages and images, tobacco companies targeted urban, poor, African American communities through the media in the 1960s and beyond, and they cynically used philanthropy to gain favor within communities of color.”
A recent retail assessment in Milwaukee found that these practices continue today -- menthol advertising and price promotions are over twice as prevalent in predominantly African American neighborhoods compared to predominantly white neighborhoods.
And once again, menthol cigarettes were marketed to the LGBTQ community at PrideFest Milwaukee from the “Newport Loft,” where attendees were able to purchase a pack for just $1 despite a state tobacco tax of $2.52.