A settlement between the big three American tobacco companies and the federal government requires executives to produce an ad campaign that reveals the harmful health effects of tobacco use and admissions that representatives knowingly lied about its dangers.
The campaign is supposed to run nationwide in more than 600 newspapers and on the three network TV channels, according to Al Jazeera America.
But do not look for any in predominantly Black publications. African-American media, which has seen extensive targeted advertising by the tobacco industry for decades, were excluded from the deal, the site says.
“I’m just wondering who dropped the ball,” anti-smoking advocate Tanisha Wright told Al Jazeera. “Why wasn’t there a bigger fight for African-Americans?”
Now, the agreement reached last month between the companies, the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of anti-tobacco groups, is headed for a court battle.
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), have filed a legal brief requesting that African-American media be represented in the corrective advertising. The NAACP has filed a similar brief, the report says. The court has given the parties until Feb. 18 to respond.
The push back is a good thing. Since the days of colonial America, African Americans have been targeted by the tobacco industry. The industry has spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising and targeted the community with menthol cigarettes, which health researchers have found are more dangerous than others, Al Jazeera reports.
Although Blacks smoke in numbers somewhat similar to other demographic groups, they see higher death rates.
Smoking causes 80 percent of deaths from lung cancer among African Americans, the third largest killer among Blacks after heart disease and stroke, which can also be caused by smoking, according to a 2012 report from the American Cancer Society.
The average incidence rate of lung and bronchial cancer is 23 percent higher for Black men than White men, and the average death rate is 28 percent higher, the same study found.
“We smoke just about the same rate as the national average, slightly higher among African-American males, but our lung cancer rates and dying rates are almost three times as much,” Delmonte Jefferson, the executive director of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN), told Al Jazeera.
“We need to start talking about what we need to do to address these disparities. Education and information are very important,” Jefferson added.