Tobacco companies targeting low income
In 2015, the tobacco industry spent more than $7 billion on discounting or lowering the cost of cigarettes.
Ever noticed how cheap cigarillos are? What about how they’re generally sold in low-income neighborhoods? That’s all thanks to Big Tobacco. Tobacco companies hand-place tobacco and nicotine products in these areas and mark them down! The catch? They’re also highly addictive. This ensures customers keep coming back for more.
How did Big Tobacco get here in the first place?
The Start of a Very Expensive Addiction
If history tells us anything, it’s that Big Tobacco will stoop to any low. Throughout the past 60 years, tobacco companies have handed out free cigarettes to children — yes, children — living in housing projects and offered discounts through food stamps at times. When laws prevented them from using obvious marketing tactics, they got sneakier. In 2015, the tobacco industry spent over $7 billion on discounting practices to make cigarettes more affordable.
Big Tobacco Won’t Give Up — No Matter the Price
There are an estimated 375,000 tobacco retailers in the U.S. They’re disproportionately located in low-income communities, often near schools, exposing kids and teens to constant tobacco marketing.
This inequality extends to the health sphere as well:
- More than a quarter of Americans living below the poverty line smoke.
- Blue-collar workers are more likely to smoke and suffer tobacco-related health consequences — many of which can be attributed to secondhand smoke from coworkers and smoke-friendly work environments.
- Although low-income Americans attempt to quit smoking at the same rate as others, they are less successful due to a lack of resources.
How We Built the Character
In our “Shapeshifter” spot, Big Tobacco’s character morphs into a convenience store clerk who pushes cigarillos to her customers. She places the cheap stuff up front and verbally reminds her shopper of the deal offered on the products. Similarly to the clerk, tobacco companies will lower their prices and market cheaper products in certain neighborhoods to ensure there’s an endless supply of customers walking through the door.
|THE COLD, HARD DATA|
|LOW SES (>$20,000 PER YEAR)||NATIONAL AVERAGE|
|ADULTS WHO USE TOBACCO DAILY||32.2%||21.3%|
|CHILDREN LIVING WITH A SMOKER||36%||20%|
Source: Truth Initiative
In short, the tobacco industry has no ethical qualms about who they’ll target. It’s time to take a stand against their “generous” marketing schemes to protect these targeted communities from addiction, one cigarillo at a time.