Tobacco and alcohol billboards in 50 Chicago neighborhoods: market segmentation to sell dangerous products to the poor

J Public Health Policy. 1995;16(2):213-30.


This paper describes a study of billboard advertising of tobacco and alcohol products in the city of Chicago. All billboards were counted and their advertising themes noted. These data were matched with information on population and race from the 1990 census in order to document which geographic areas of the city, if any, had excess tobacco or alcohol billboards. The data revealed that minority wards were burdened with three times as many tobacco billboards and five times as many alcohol billboards when compared to white wards. The findings are congruent with studies conducted in other urban areas, which demonstrate a consistent pattern of tobacco and alcohol advertisers targeting poor and minority neighborhoods for outdoor advertising of their dangerous products. Chicago legislative initiatives based on the billboard study are described.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Advertising / statistics & numerical data*
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Chicago
  • Consumer Advocacy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Humans
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Smoking*


  • Hazardous Substances