According to Legacy, Newport, an almost exclusively menthol brand, is the most popular cigarette brand among black youth, with 60 percent of established black smokers in middle school and nearly 79 percent of black high school smokers smoking Newport.
In addition, Legacy reported, the use of little cigars, or cigarillos, some flavored or mentholated, “is a rising problem for at risk African-American youth. In addition, many youth incorrectly believe that little cigars are less addictive and less harmful than cigarettes.”
Despite some variation in the findings across studies of cessation among menthol smokers the weight of the scientific evidence shows that adult menthol smokers are less likely than non-menthol smokers to successfully quit smoking despite increased quit intentions and quit attempts.
And the tobacco industry, in its ongoing search to grow its customer base, has historically targeted the black community – especially in the use of menthol cigarette advertising.
Since the 1960’s, according to Legacy, the tobacco industry has labeled the African-American population as a strategically important market, one whose search for recognition and empowerment made them a target for existing and new brands specifically marketed to help African-Americans build their own identity.
Basically, the desire to appear cool, hip and in control of one’s destiny, especially among a group that has been the victim of efforts – institutional and legal – over several generations could be manipulated to give one the feeling of having achieved that status through smoking.
The tobacco industry forged alliances with community leaders and black organizations and sponsorships of positive programs to use black voices to defend pro-tobacco policy and oppose tobacco control laws.
People interested in quitting, can visit www.BecomeAnEX.org which offers a free online smoking cessation plan created by Legacy that provides action-oriented information on how to quit successfully using proven methods. The program was created with input from current and former smokers along with tobacco treatment experts at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
Phone help can also be found at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.