1998 Highlights: African Americans and Tobacco



Health Effects

  • Stroke is associated with cerebrovascular disease and is a major cause of death in the United States. Smoking significantly elevates the risk for stroke. Cerebrovascular disease is twice as high among African-American men (53.1 per 100,000) as among white men (26.3 per 100,000) and twice as high among African-American women (40.6 per 100,000) as among white women (22.6 per 100,000).

Cigarette Smoking Behavior

  • Approximately three of every four African-American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes. Among whites, approximately a quarter of smokers prefer menthol cigarettes. Menthol may facilitate absorption of harmful cigarette smoke constituents.
  • Among adult African-American smokers, the most popular brands are Newport, Kool, and Salem. Similar brand preference was found among African-American teens with 61.3% preferring Newport, 10.9% preferringg Kool, and 9.7% preferring Salem.

Prevalence of Other Forms of Tobacco Use

  • Aggregated National Health Interview Survey data from 1987 and 1991 show that more white men (4.8%) smoked cigars than did African-American men (3.9%).
  • African-American men (3.1%) use chewing tobacco or snuff less than white men (6.8%).

African Americans and Quitting

  • Of current African-American adult smokers, more than 70% indicated that they want to quit smoking completely. African-American smokers are more likely than white smokers to have quit for at least one day during the previous year (29.7% compared with 26.0%).
  • Prevalence of cessation (the percentage of persons who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes and quit) is higher among whites (50.5%) than among African Americans (35.4%).

Tobacco Industry Economic Influence

  • A one-year study found that three major African-American publications—Ebony, Jet, and Essence—received proportionately higher profits from cigarette advertisements than did other magazines.
  • The tobacco industry attempts to maintain a positive image and public support among African Americans by supporting cultural events and making contributions to minority higher education institutions, elected officials, civic and community organizations, and scholarship programs.


Disclaimer: Data and findings provided in the publications on this page reflect the content of this particular Surgeon General’s Report. More recent information may exist elsewhere on the Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site (for example, in fact sheets, frequently asked questions, or other materials that are reviewed on a regular basis and updated accordingly).