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Big Tobacco Targeted Women, Teens, and…Minorities


Noted Miami attorney, J.B. Harris, has fired a new volley over the bow of Big Tobacco’s massive armada.

We know that Big Tobacco has made a habit of targeting certain groups of people for whom they thought a marketing campaign could be advantageous. We remember the ads targeted towards women (ala Virginia Slims), telling them that smoking was empowering and, yet, feminine. We all too well remember the cartoon campaigns to teens (ala Joe Cool), telling them that cigarettes were cool, adult, empowering.

Attorney J.B. Harris has discovered that the tobacco industry also targeted the community of African-Americans. Well, yes; and no surprises to anyone who knows Big Tobacco.

Harris represents Gloria Tucker, on behalf of her mom’s estate; after her mom was killed by Big Tobacco’s drug.

Law.Com quotes Harris’ findings in various Big Tobacco documents and the findings, although outraging, are of no real surprise:

“Blacks tend to buy less things to improve themselves, they appear less concerned about health-related issues (i.e., blacks don’t necessarily identify with the motivations of the “Concerned” and “Moderation” segments) and are more prone to buy on impulse.”

“Blacks have less concern for the future and live from one day to the next. They buy products for instant gratification.”

So, is it wrong to target very specific groups of people in order to focus a marketing plan? Of course not, but most corporations are not marketing what Big Tobacco has marketed. Cigarettes are addictive; cigarettes are generally lethal; and cigarettes continue to be the only substantially unregulated, dangerous drug. We have all heard references to nicotine being as addictive, or more addictive, than heroin and that cigarettes are one of the hardest dangerous drugs to quit abusing. In view of the dangerous nature of Big Tobacco’s drug, isn’t the careful plotting and targeting of any group…well, just wrong?

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