Study Examines How Tobacco Industry Marketing Incorporated American Indian Culture And Traditional Tobacco


As part of this study (Tobacco Control, February 2018) researchers conducted a keyword search of industry documents using document archives from the Truth Tobacco Documents Library. The study found that tobacco industry marketing tactics have incorporated American Indian culture and traditional tobacco since at least the 1930s, with these tactics prominently highlighted during the 1990s with Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Documents revealed the use of American Indian imagery such as traditional headdresses and other cultural symbols in product branding and the portrayal of harmful stereotypes of Native people in advertising. The historical and cultural significance of traditional tobacco was used to validate commercially available tobacco. The researchers concluded that the tobacco industry has misappropriated culture and traditional tobacco by misrepresenting American Indian traditions, values and beliefs to market and sell their products for profit. Recommendations include ongoing monitoring of tobacco industry marketing tactics directed at exploiting Native culture and counter-marketing tactics that raise awareness about the distinction between commercial and traditional tobacco use.

Source: D’Silva et al. (2018). Tobacco industry misappropriation of American Indian culture and traditional tobacco. Tobacco Control, Feb 19, [Epub ahead of print]

Read the abstract at

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