Menthols and Racial Capitalism: A History of Tobacco Profiteering in Black Urban Spaces
Long seen by the tobacco industry as a consumer segment of consumers ripe for exploitation, urban communities of color have endured vicious decades of deceit and disregard for their health as the targets of menthol cigarette advertising. Menthols comprise some 30 percent of a shrinking tobacco market in the United States. As the industry and its supporters in public office move to protect their profits from a federal ban, Dr. Wailoo offers a detailed account of how advertising firms explicitly capitalized on poverty, alienation, and drug use to carve a menthol market out of urban space. This effort, which started in the 1950s and lasted decades, followed the tobacco industry’s false framing of menthol cigarettes as a safer, even healthful alternative for smokers beginning in the 1920s.
Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for a moderated discussion with Princeton University History Professor Keith Wailoo, author of Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette, Dr. Amy Fairchild, dean of The Ohio State University College of Public Health, and DEPC Visiting Assistant Professor Sarah Brady Siff.