A new study from researchers at King’s College London found that youth between the ages of 11 and 23 were 80 percent more likely to report smoking as a teen if they had experienced racism.
“A lot of research that’s been done focuses on interpersonal experiences [of racism], but by focusing on individuals, we give the larger system a pass,” says Neblett.
In the United States, that includes a long, clear history of the tobacco industry aggressively marketing harmful tobacco products to black communities and other minorities.
In 1993, a New York Times columnist recalled a tobacco executive scoffing at the idea that he himself smoked the cigarettes he’d undoubtedly made millions off of. “Are you kidding?” the executive said. “We reserve that right for the poor, the young, the black, and the stupid.”
Today, African Americans are more likely to smoke the most addictive and dangerous types of tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes. Like the cough drops and cold medications that contain the minty essence, menthol in cigarettes cools and relieves the throat.
That makes the harshness of tobacco smoke much more palatable, says LaTroya Hester, the director of communications for the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network.
Read the full story on Popular Science.