‘Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette’

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A collage of 1960s and 1970s menthol cigarette advertisements that targeted Black Americans.

A collage of 1960s and 1970s menthol cigarette advertisements that targeted Black Americans.

The FDA plans to ban menthol cigarettes in 2022. These mint flavored and highly addictive cigarettes have been specifically marketed to Black Americans since the 1950s, and today, 80% of Black smokers use mentholated cigarettes.

In Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette, Princeton University professor KEITH WAILOO exposes the racism and predatory marketing that the tobacco industry used to addict Black Americans on menthol cigarettes and how they partnered with Black businesses, civic leaders and organizations.

Guest

Keith Wailoo, Professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and the author of Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette.

Recommended reading

Washington Post, FDA weighs ban on menthol cigarettes which disproportionally addict and kill Black Americans – “Although Black Americans smoke less than White Americans in general, Black men have the highest rates of lung cancer in the United States.”

Princeton Weekly, Keith Wailoo reveals Big Tobacco’s exploitation of Black Americans – “I remember the signature waterfall imagery, the smooth-looking Black men and women, and the carefree Black groups featured in the Newport ads.”

Salon, How Big Tobacco made menthol racial – “The industry has been successful at cultivating the idea that that’s not a byproduct of exploitation or targeted marketing or illegitimate shaping of preferences; it’s an authentic preference that expresses a Black consumer desire.”

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