September 21, 2018

A new anti-smoking commercial focuses on discriminatory tobacco marketing

Comedian Amanda Seales
Image: screenshot

The tobacco industry knows all about diversity and knows exactly how to exploit it.

That’s the message of a new ad campaign from anti-smoking group Truth Initiative that highlights the ways in which cigarette marketers disproportionately target disadvantaged groups.

In the commercials, comedian and former MTV VJ Amanda Seales talks through some stark statistics about the abundance of tobacco ads in black neighborhoods, near low-income schools and other areas where they’re more likely to be seen by various underprivileged populations.

“It’s not a coincidence. It’s profiling,” Seales says in the repeated tagline of the videos.

According to studies cited in the ads, there are an average of 10 times more tobacco ads in black neighborhoods than others, and tobacco retailers are much more likely to populate areas near low-income schools than schools in more affluent neighborhoods.

The focus on the discriminatory nature of tobacco advertising is a tack not often seen in anti-tobacco campaigns, which more often stick to showcasing the drug’s brutal health effects.

Truth is hoping this revelation will strike a chord with socially conscious millennials. Market research that the group did in preparation for the campaign found that young people were generally unaware of this particular problem, but were upset and angry upon learning about it.

“We are always looking for ways to help young people understand that, while Big Tobacco might not be top of mind for them, it in fact does impact their life,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative.

The ads will make their national debut during the Grammys Sunday night.

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