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Considerations for Tobacco Programs for African American Populations

The tobacco industry has long focused on African Americans as an important market segment. This history is important when considering African Americans' attitudes towards tobacco and interventions focused on cessation. Today, African Americans are more likely to die from smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and stroke than whites.

Menthol tobacco products, in particular, are heavily marketed in African American communities and sold at a lower price point in those areas. Menthol is associated with folk medicine, and thus some people believe menthol tobacco is less harmful. Tobacco control programs and policies targeting menthol tobacco products are needed.

Additionally, African American children and adults are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than other populations, identifying an important opportunity for interventions focused on secondhand smoke exposure. Contributing to this, African Americans are less likely to be covered under smoke-free workplace policies.