The two most common cigarettes smoked by black folks are Newports and Kools. So much so that nearly 90% of Lorrilard’s business, the producer of Newports, comes from black and Minority smokers.
Lorillard Inc., maker of the U.S.’s leading menthol cigarette brand, is engaged in a fierce battle to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from banning a product that accounts for roughly 90% of its sales.
In addition to arguing that menthols are no more addictive than regular cigarettes, the company is courting allies, including some African-American groups, to help make its case. Through its public-relations network, Lorillard has enlisted a consultant to get prominent blacks to espouse an anti-ban message in the media.
Newport is especially popular with African-American smokers, about 80% of whom prefer menthol cigarettes, according to U.S.-government survey data. ..
Menthol cigarettes account for about 30% of industry sales…
African-Americans have a slightly higher adult smoking rate than the national population. About 21.3% of black adults smoke, according to a 2010 Centers for Disease Control report, compared with 20.6% of all Americans. Blacks also have a disproportionately high rate of smoking-related disease.
Through the decades, minorities increasingly gravitated to menthol brands such as Newport, Kool and Salem as tobacco companies ratcheted up magazine and billboard ads depicting carefree black smokers. In surveys, blacks often express a taste preference for menthol cigarettes.
A Morgan Stanley survey of 878 smokers published in December found that 40% of Newport smokers would most likely try to quit upon a menthol ban. Twenty-six percent of the 191 Newport smokers polled were unsure what they would do and 15% said they would switch to non-menthol cigarettes… (more…)