Did You Know? Secret Tobacco Industry Documents Show that Tobacco Companies Targeted American Indians/Alaska Natives


A newly published study analyzed tobacco industry promotional efforts specifically targeting American Indians/Alaska Natives and exploiting Tribal lands to understand appropriate policy responses in light of American Indians’/Alaska Natives’ unique sovereign status and culture. Researchers examined previously secret tobacco industry documents available at the Truth Tobacco Documents Library (https://industrydocuments.library.ucsf.edu/tobacco/). The study found that tobacco companies used promotional strategies targeting American Indians/Alaska Natives and exploiting Tribal lands that leveraged the federally-recognized Tribes’ unique sovereign status exempting them from state cigarette taxes and smokefree laws. In addition, tobacco companies exploited some Tribes’ existing traditional uses of ceremonial tobacco and poverty. Tactics included price reductions, coupons, giveaways, gaming promotions, charitable contributions and sponsorships. Additionally, tobacco companies built alliances with Tribal leaders to help improve their corporate image, advance ineffective “youth smoking prevention” programs, and defeat tobacco control policies. The authors concluded that the industry’s promotional tactics likely contribute to disparities in smoking prevalence and smoking-related diseases among American Indians/Alaska Natives. The researchers’ recommendations included that Tribal communities should consider policy interventions to address these disparities including tobacco price increases, cigarette taxes, comprehensive smokefree laws, and industry denormalization campaigns to reduce smoking prevalence and smoking-related disease.

Source: Lempert & Glantz (2018). Tobacco Industry Promotional Strategies Targeting American Indians/Alaska Natives and Exploiting Tribal Sovereignty. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Mar 12. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty048. [Epub ahead of print]

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