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Why Do Black Smokers Seem to Prefer Menthols?


Are black smokers' preference of mentholated brands like Kool, Salem and Newports a matter of cultural preference, tobacco industry marketing, or some combination thereof?

A researcher at the University of California offers his theory via the New York Times:

"The migration of African-Americans to urban manufacturing centers after World War II, coupled with the emergence of black-oriented newspapers and magazines, created various opportunities for niche marketing. In the case of cigarettes, with research showing a slight black preference for Kools, a menthol brand, the industry saw an opening to appeal to black smokers."

And then there's this: Though magazine advertising for cigarettes has declined, the Times reports "the portion devoted to menthol brands — only 12 percent in 1998 — had grown to 76 percent by 2006."

More: Cigarette Bill Treats Menthol With Leniency