The tobacco industry’s scheme to get Black people addicted to menthol cigarettes was highlighted in “Black Lives/Black Lungs,” a new documentary about the dangers of the flavored smokes, the Spokane Spokesman reported. Nine out of 10 Black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Filmmaker Lincoln Mondy , 23, examined the menthol cigarette advertising blitz that began since the 1950s. As a bi-racial child, Mondy said he noticed his White relatives tended to smoke non-menthol cigarettes and used chewing tobacco. On the other side of the family, his Black relatives used menthol cigarettes exclusively.
The tobacco industry’s strategy included giving money to Black politicians, scholarships to African-American students and support for Black cultural events, Mondy’s film also revealed.
The consequences have been devastating. African-Americans die from diseases related to tobacco use at a higher rate than Whites, even though Blacks smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking at an older age than White people do, according to the CDC.
Cigarette makers are not the only industry under fire for targeting the Black community. Earlier this year, two pastors from the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, CBS News reported.
According to the ministers, the soda industry shares a huge part of the responsibility for the diabetes epidemic that has swept through minority communities because the industry targets African-Americans and Hispanics.