As Hispanic Heritage Month, a recognition of our heritage, culture, presence and contributions in America, winds down, its important to look at all aspects of our impact of this country. One testament to the influence of Latino culture in America is the amount of marketing that either features or caters towards Hispanics. And while it took most of mainstream American companies a long time to realize the spending power and influence of Hispanics there was one industry that realized it decades ago.
Unfortunately, it was the tobacco industry. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, as early as the 80s, companies like Winston and others were trying to capture the Hispanic market, describing them as “young, growing, geographically concentrated and brand loyal.” Hardly compliments when you consider that smoking causes lung and heart disease as well as several cancers.
In addition to utilizing print ads which promoted traditional Hispanic values many tobacco companies Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds donated thousands to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. These historic targeting practices are still impacting Hispanic youth today, as many young grew up watching their parents smoke before taking up the habit themselves. In 2015, 9 percent of Hispanic youth smoked and more than 86 percent of them preferred Marlboro, Camel and Newport, arguably the three most heavily advertised brands.
Let’s put an end to the historic practice of tobacco companies targeting our community. Please help us spread awareness of this fact even after Hispanic Heritage Month ends. The health of our community and especially our youth depends on it!
Wisconsin Latino Tobacco Prevention FACT