Pittsburgh, PA (February 16, 2023) –
As we recognize Black History Month, Adagio Health is reflecting on health inequities that continue to impact the African American community. For many years, tobacco companies targeted people of color with marketing and advertisements predominantly centered in African American and minority neighborhoods. Menthol cigarettes were also heavily marketed toward Black Americans. Menthol provides the “smooth” flavor in tobacco products that reduces harshness of smoking, making it difficult to quit for an individual. In Allegheny County alone, 16% of African Americans identified as smokers in 2021 – a rate higher than the Pennsylvania state average, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. And according to a 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85% of Black smokers preferred menthol cigarettes.
Over 20,000 Pennsylvania residents die, and thousands get sick because of tobacco-related diseases like cancer, respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and stroke. And tobacco use continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, according to the CDC.
Even if an individual is a nonsmoker, African Americans have a higher risk of exposure to secondhand smoke than people from other racial backgrounds.
“A key focus of our work in Allegheny County is prioritizing the most vulnerable communities, which often includes people of color, youth, and the LGBTQ+ community,” said Casey Monroe, Vice President of Disease Prevention Programs at Adagio Health. “With a focus on health equity, we work to combat institutionalized stressors often placed on these vulnerable communities through our programming, which includes prevention, education, and cessation services.”