FACEism: How Big Tobacco's targeting of Black communities lured generations into addiction

David Ono Image
Friday, June 11, 2021
How Big Tobacco targets Black communities
In this FACEism report, we examine how Big Tobacco's aggressive marketing targeted Black communities and lured many customers into a lifetime of addiction.

Millions of Americans continue to die from smoking and a disproportionate amount are minorities.

It's easy to assume smokers know the risk, but it's not that simple. According to investigators, minority communities, as well as children, were specifically targeted.

Today, they pay a terrible price. Generations of addicted children have turned into millions of unhealthy adults.

"This is about multinational tobacco companies preying upon the Black community for decades, and being the largest killer of Black people out of all the other issues that we have," said Carol McGruder with the African American Tobacco Leadership Council.

Dave Chappelle's experience with cigarettes is emblematic of how someone can get caught in the Big Tobacco web. The comedian revealed how he was given a pack of cigarettes at age 14 during a promotion held by a cigarette company.

McGruder says Chappelle's experience is disturbing, but valuable in terms of helping to understand Big Tobacco and how they penetrated communities of color.

Additionally, documents uncovered have revealed how Big Tobacco has targeted Black Americans through aggressive marketing.

The other installments in the FACEism series can be found here.