It has long been known that cigarette advertising has targeted the African American community. It also is a well-known fact that blacks are at an increased risk for lung cancer even though they smoke about the same amount as other races, according to the American Lung Association
That is why there was so much alarm last week when it was revealed that the top distributor of the soon-to-be banned spice-flavored clove cigarettes will offer a replacement product: new filtered cigars, flavored with clove, vanilla and cherry, according to the Associated Press
The concern is that African American teens will be disproportionately targeted and enticed by the product, which is imported by Kretek International, Inc
. If so, it could undercut smoking rates among black teens that have declined over the last decade. Between 1997 and 2007, the nation saw the smoking rate among African American teens decline 49 percent from 22.7 to 11.6, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2006, 5.5 percent of African American middle school students smoked cigarettes, compared to 6.5 percent among non-Hispanics and 6.8 among Hispanics, the study shows.
"African American communities have been bombarded with cigarette advertising,'' according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Since the signing of the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) in 1998 through 2005, the average youth in the United States is annually exposed to 559 tobacco ads, every adult female 617 advertisements, and every African American adult 892 ads.''
The Food and Drug Administration
recently banned the sale of flavored cigarettes in an effort to stop the sale of products that attract teens. The move comes just months after President Barack Obama signed legislation giving the F.D.A. the authority to regulate tobacco products.