Big Tobacco and Targeted Advertising

Article published at: May 27, 2017 Article author: Lily Michaud
big tobacco and targeted advertising
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Big tobacco has been targeting the LGBTQ community as well as African Americans. These populations also show an greater tobacco addiction rates. Here's some info to get you motivated to quit smoking tobacco. 


LGBT (from UCSF)

Smoking Prevalence: In 2013, the smoking rate was 51% higher among LGBT adults (26.6%) than straight adults (17.6%).

  • Overall, sexual minorities are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than their heterosexual counterparts. Bisexual women are up to three and a half times more likely to be smokers than heterosexual women.
  • Smoking rates among LGBT youth are estimated to be considerably higher (38%- 59%) than those among adolescents in general (28% -35%).

Race/Ethnicity (from the CDC)

Current cigarette smoking was highest among non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives and people of multiple races and lowest among Asians.

  • Nearly 22 of every 100 non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives (21.9%)
  • More than 20 of every 100 non-Hispanic multiple race individuals (20.2%)
  • Nearly 17 of every 100 non-Hispanic Blacks (16.7%)
  • More than 16 of every 100 non-Hispanic Whites (16.6%)
  • More than 10 of every 100 Hispanics (10.1%)
  • 7 of every 100 non-Hispanic Asians* (7.0%) 

Advertising strategies by Big Tobacco

In the more distant past, white elite men were generally more likely to smoke. In order to broaden their sales cigarette companies have strategically targeted various populations. 

Industry documents show that tobacco companies were aware of high smoking rates among sexual minorities, and marketing plans illustrate the companies’ efforts to exploit the LGBT market. (more here) There was a notable project by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company launched in 1995 and call Project SCUM. Their goal: 'to sell cigarettes to members of the "alternative lifestyle" areas of San Francisco...The acronym "SCUM" stood for "subculture urban marketing."' from the wikipedia page

Targeting the African American community:

"In fact, Big Tobacco has been targeting the African American community for decades. Back in the ‘80’s, a major tobacco company paid people to go into inner-city neighborhoods and hand out free samples of menthol (and some regular) cigarettes in an effort to acquire African Americans as customers.

Today, in cities like DC, there are still up to 10 times more tobacco ads in black neighborhoods than in other neighborhoods. Another study done in DC (just three years ago) even found that little cigars and cigarillos were cheaper in neighborhoods with a higher density of black residents." from Stop Profiling/

Brown Bear Alternatives:

I created my three original blends: Take it EasyThe Social, and Gentle & Protective to help people quit tobacco. If you have any questions about which blend might be best for you check out the product descriptions, read our blog posts about people quitting and feel free to contact Brown Bear Herbs. These blends are intended to address the underlying reasons people smoke through non-addictive herbs. They are not intended to be used habitually.


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