Menthol cigarettes are marketed to African-American youths in a “predatory” manner through more ads and lower prices near California high schools, said a US study released on Friday.
Researchers at Stanford University said their findings, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, show that menthol cigarette makers are aiming to get young people addicted and are harming the nation’s health.
For many years, the mint-flavored cigarettes have been more popular among blacks than other ethnic groups. US regulators are mulling whether to restrict or ban the sale of menthol cigarettes altogether.
For the study, researchers randomly selected food shops and convenience stores in easy walking distance of 91 schools, and took note of how cigarettes were marketed.
In places with more black kids, the price of Newports, a top brand of menthols, was lower and more advertisements could be seen.
“For every 10-percentage-point increase in the proportion of African-American students at a school, the proportion of advertisements for menthol cigarettes increased by 5.9 percentage points,” said the study.
“Additionally, the odds of an advertised discount for Newport, the leading brand of menthol cigarettes, were 1.5 times greater.”
For every 10 percent increase in the number of black students at a nearby school, the price of a pack of Newports was 12 cents lower. Similar discounts by demographics were not seen in a leading non-menthol brand, Marlboro.