Quid pro quo: tobacco companies and the black press

Am J Public Health. 2012 Apr;102(4):739-50. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300180. Epub 2011 Nov 28.


Objectives: We explored the relationship between tobacco companies and the Black press, which plays an important role in conveying information and opinions to Black communities.

Methods: In this archival case study, we analyzed data from internal tobacco industry documents and archives of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association of the Black press.

Results: In exchange for advertising dollars and other support, the tobacco industry expected and received support from Black newspapers for tobacco industry policy positions. Beginning in the 1990s, resistance from within the Black community and reduced advertising budgets created counterpressures. The tobacco industry, however, continued to sustain NNPA support.

Conclusions: The quid pro quo between tobacco companies and the Black press violated journalistic standards and represented an unequal trade. Although numerous factors explain today's tobacco-related health disparities, the Black press's service to tobacco companies is problematic because of the trust that the community placed in such media. Understanding the relationship between the tobacco industry and the NNPA provides insight into strategies that the tobacco industry may use in other communities and countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / economics
  • Advertising / ethics*
  • Black or African American*
  • Healthcare Disparities / economics
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethics*
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Newspapers as Topic / economics
  • Newspapers as Topic / ethics*
  • Smoking / economics
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • Tobacco Industry / economics
  • Tobacco Industry / ethics*