A pack of cigarettes over a field of tobacco with US currency overlay to promote Lincoln Mondy's Black Lives/Black Lungs 2: A Story of a Stolen Leaf.

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, were strategically and aggressively marketed to Black Americans 
  • The industry’s marketing efforts included increased advertising and discounts in Black neighborhoods, appropriation of Black culture in their ads, and the successful infiltration into prominent Black-led organizations and groups 
  • 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
  • The vaping industry is breathing new life into Big Tobacco’s old tactics, including making major donations to historically Black institutions.
  • A Congressional subcommittee found that JUUL planned to fund a summer program targeting children at a charter school. It would have given them access to children as young as eight years old, some of them Black.

Where We Stand

  • 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 on the market and continue to pose a threat to young, first-time smokers 

How to Help

  • Tweet the FDA 
    • In 2022, the FDA proposed rules to remove menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars from the market. Let them know it’s time to follow through and get these harmful products off the shelves. Scroll on and click-to-Tweet to show them your support. 
  • Host a screening 
  • Add Your Voice
    • Vaping + tobacco is a Social Justice issue. Big Tobacco and Vape have a history of lying, profiling, and targeting vulnerable groups. Add your name to the fight for Social Justice by signing truth’s petition below.
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Call on the FDA to Completely Remove Menthol and Flavors From the Market

Over 80% of young people start with flavored products.

The FDA has the power to remove all flavored tobacco and vape products from the market. Big Tobacco and Vape companies have used predatory practices to hook young people using menthol and flavored products. That’s why we're calling @fdatobacco out directly and need your help. 

Click the icon below to tweet to the FDA and let them know you want them to act. You can also copy and paste the message below to post on any platform you choose. 

The more we post and tag the FDA with this action, the clearer it becomes that we will stop at nothing to protect our communities. 

We're calling on @FDAtobacco to remove flavored tobacco and vape products from the market. Industries have used menthol and flavors to exploit the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities and hook young people on addictive products. It's time to act.


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.

Apply to be a truth Ambassador!

We’re looking for passionate, committed leaders who want to make an impact for truth and are interested in amplifying our work on a local level. The truth® Ambassador program is a year-long leadership program to recruit peers, share stories and experiences on tobacco and vaping control issues, and advocate for tobacco and vape-free communities. Application closes 11:59PM EST 4/30/2023.
Become a truth® Ambassador