Introduction: This study analyzes tobacco industry menthol marketing strategies aimed at urban predominantly Black populations.
Methods: Data are drawn from an interview with a former Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company trade marketing manager, tobacco industry documents on Kool promotions in urban areas, and public health literature on tobacco marketing.
Results: Tobacco companies recognize the growth potential for the menthol segment in these urban communities. They have higher levels of price discounts and signage, exert tight controls over the retail environment, and use hip-hop lifestyle to associate menthol products with urban nightlife, music, fame, and cultural edginess among younger smokers.
Conclusions: Tobacco companies regard the urban Black menthol segment as one of the few markets in which they can grow sales despite declines elsewhere in the United States. Consequently, this population is surrounded by intense and integrated levels of marketing. We need strong monitoring, regulation, and enforcement efforts that will counter the industry's use of menthol at multiple levels in urban environments.