The Problem

Big Tobacco’s goal has remained transparent for decades: sell products, which  – when used as directed – can addict, harm, and even kill people. They also have a long history of systemic discrimination contributing to a public health emergency in the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ communities. Today, vaping companies are following in their footsteps; using moves from an old playbook to profit from new products.

The History

  • Menthol cigarettes, which have a “cooling” flavor that masks the harshness of tobacco, are strategically and aggressively marketed to Black Americans by using increased advertising and discounts in Black neighborhoods, appropriation of Black culture, and more.
    • Similar tactics – including exploitative marketing and cultural appropriation – have been used to target LGBTQ+ and Indigenous groups 
  • Today, approximately 85% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes; LGBTQ+ young people are 2x more likely to smoke than their heterosexual peers; and American Indian/Alaska Native youth have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking among all racial/ethnic groups in the US.

Click here for a Q&A with one of truth’s College Leaders about menthol’s impact on Black Americans.

Where We Stand

  • We support the FDA’s proposed rule to get these harmful, addictive products off the market for good. We encourage the White House to take action today. Click here to learn more.
  • Leaders and activists from these communities have been fighting back against Big Tobacco for decades; and while progress is being made, the industry continues to tighten its grip on lawmakers.
  • In April 2022, the FDA finally proposed rules to remove menthol cigarettes from the market. But nearly a year later, flavored tobacco products (including menthol) remain for sale and continue to pose a threat to young, first-time smokers.
  • The tobacco industry has fueled false claims that eliminating menthol cigarettes will put Black Americans at greater risk of interactions or punishment from law enforcement.
    • But this simply isn’t true – the FDA has made it clear that the enforcement of new rules around menthol will be focused on manufacturers and retailers, not individual consumers. As a federal agency, the FDA has the ability to regulate what products are created and sold; they don’t have the ability to enforce laws on citizens. These false claims are all part of an attempt to manipulate the public into opposing menthol regulations.
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Host a Screening of "Black Lives / Black Lungs"

“Black Lives / Black Lungs,” a two-part documentary series by filmmaker Lincoln Mondy, explores and details the history of the tobacco industry’s targeting and discrimination and how it continues to have an impact on public health today.

Progress is being made in holding Big Tobacco accountable; but when it comes to preventing racial profiling, long-term health effects, death, and disease, we can’t wait for progress to happen slowly. Community film screenings are a powerful tool you can use to help educate your peers and create awareness around this issue. 

Click here for tips on how to host your screening event.

Share the Facts

Spread the truth about the harmful impacts of Big Tobacco and Vape funding.

SHARE THE FACTS. Download and share a graphic below to get the word out on your social channels. Be sure to tag @truthorange.

LGBTQ+ young people are two times more likely to smoke than their heterosexual-identifying peers.

 

Indigenous American and Alaska Native Youth have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking among all racial/ethnic groups in the U.S.
If a ban on menthol had passed in 2011, it could've saved an estimated 320,000 lives.

 

Fact: Nearly 90% of African American smokers use menthol, which is easier to start and harder to quit.
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