Marketing to Black/African American individuals
Research that has been done on marketing to specific racial or ethnic subgroups has compared marketing to a specific subgroup with marketing to White individuals. In order to explore this area, published studies have looked at the following types of marketing: magazines, billboards, point-of-sale, and promotions. Little research has been done on the impact of this marketing.
Cummings et al  reviewed full-page cigarette ads appearing from June 1984 to May 1985 in seven different magazines, with four directed primarily at a White audience: Newsweek, Time, People, and Mademoiselle, and three directed primarily at a Black/African American audience: Jet, Ebony, and Essence. The researchers found that the ads for cigarettes in the three publications for Black/African American audiences were focused on menthol cigarettes (83.4% in Jet, 59.1% in Ebony, and 65.7% in Essence). In contrast, the cigarette ads in magazines directed at White audiences were much less likely to be for menthol cigarettes (24.6% in People, 5.1% in Time, and 4.9% in Newsweek).
Data from a later study found a similar pattern, with more ads for menthol cigarettes in publications designed for Black/African American individuals. In their review of 274 cigarette ads published between January 1998 and August 2002 in 54 issues of People and 56 issues of Ebony, Landrine et al  found a significant difference in the prevalence of ads for menthol cigarettes, with 67.2% of the cigarette ads in Ebony being for menthol cigarettes, compared with 17.3% in People (p < .0005). Stepwise logistic regression analysis indicated that Ebony was 9.8 times as likely as People to contain an ad for menthol cigarettes.
Balbach et al  also compared cigarette ads in popular magazines with primarily Black/African American or White readers. These researchers compared 379 ads for cigarettes (RJ Reynolds brand) published in Jet, Ebony, and Essence with those published in People Weekly at two time points spanning a decade (in 1989–1900 and again in 1999–2000). During the two time periods, virtually all of the RJ Reynolds ads in Jet, Ebony, and Essence were for menthol cigarettes (100% and 97.7%), compared with 31.6% and 0% in People Weekly (p < .001).
Altman et al  conducted an analysis of 901 billboards in one urban setting and found that tobacco was the leading product advertised (19% of all billboards), with menthol cigarettes advertised in 13% of all tobacco billboards. The proportion of tobacco billboard ads was significantly higher in Black/African American neighborhoods than in White neighborhoods (24% vs. 17%; p < .03), and Black/African American neighborhoods were also more likely than White neighborhoods to contain billboards with ads for menthol cigarettes (22% vs. 11%; p < .01).
The findings of a study of point-of-sale advertising study in one community demonstrated the marketing of menthol cigarettes to the Black/African American population. Laws et al  found that the percentage of ads for menthol cigarettes was highest (32.3%) in stores selling tobacco products in a predominantly Black/African American urban community, compared with 10% of ads in non-minority neighborhoods. Both the Laws  and the Altman  study are limited in that they only examined advertising in one geographic area.
Promotional offers on cigarettes (e.g., coupons, two-for-one offers, retailer discounts), which represented three-quarters of the tobacco industry’s marketing expenses in 2002, are another tactic that can focus on specific populations . White et al  analyzed data from 4,618 current smokers who responded to the population-based 2002 California Tobacco Survey (a random-digit-dialed survey). Among all respondents, smokers of menthol brands used promotional offers more often than smokers of the two other leading (non-menthol) brands (57.1% [menthol brand] vs. 49.1% [Camel] and 34.8% [Marlboro]); this analysis did not control for age, race, or socioeconomic status. The researchers also found that among Black/African American individuals, those who smoked menthol cigarettes were more likely to use promotional offers than those who smoked non-menthol cigarettes (65.4% vs. 28.7%).
Finally, one cross-sectional survey examined the influence of tobacco advertising; the survey was conducted among adult Black/African American smokers in a low socioeconomic, urban area of Los Angeles . Approximately 69% of the 432 survey participants (115 men and 181 women) smoked menthol cigarettes. Participants were asked two questions to evaluate their exposure to advertising:
• When you were a child, the ads you saw or heard most often were for menthols or non-menthols?
• Currently, the ads you see most often are for menthols or non-menthols?
Women who were exposed to ads for menthol cigarettes in their childhood had a higher odds ratio (1.72) for currently smoking menthol cigarettes than women who were not exposed, though this was not statistically significant. Men who had been exposed to ads for menthol cigarettes in their childhood had a lower odds ratio (0.61) for currently smoking menthol cigarettes than men who were not exposed, though this was also not statistically significant. Finally, the odds ratios were higher for both men and women to be more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes if they were currently exposed to advertising of menthol cigarettes, but these results were not statistically significant either.
Marketing to Hispanic/Latino individuals
Research on marketing to Hispanic/Latino populations has been examined in three studies looking at the advertising of menthol cigarettes to Hispanic/Latino populations. All of these studies were also discussed in the last section, as they also examined the advertising of menthol cigarettes to Black/African American populations.
The study by Landrine et al  included 31 issues of the Spanish version of People in its comparison of cigarette ads. The Hispanic/Latino audience did not appear to be a large focus of cigarette ads overall, with a mean of 1.58 ads per issue (compared with 1.87 ads per issue of People and 2.25 ads per issue of Ebony). Although most ads were for non-menthol cigarettes, the Spanish version of People was 2.6 times more likely than the English version of People to contain ads for menthol cigarettes . The authors concluded that the tobacco industry appeared to be using similar strategies to market to the Hispanic/Latino population as had been used with the Black/African American population.
In the study of billboards by Altman et al , Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods had significantly more tobacco ads as compared to White neighborhoods or Asian neighborhoods (25% vs. 17% and 14% respectively; p < .03). Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods were also significantly more likely to contain billboards with ads for menthol cigarettes as compared to White or Asian neighborhoods (17% vs. 11% and 10%, respectively; p < .01).
Further information is provided by the study of point-of-sale advertising by Laws et al . The rates of advertising for menthol brand cigarettes were higher in two predominantly Hispanic/Latino communities (18.1% and 14.8%) than in nonminority neighborhoods (10%).
Marketing to women
Little published research was found on the advertising of menthol cigarettes to women. The bibliography includes two reviews about tobacco use among women, but neither had menthol-specific advertising information.
One article based on review of internal tobacco industry documents noted that ads for menthol cigarettes were often designed to appeal to women, with images of romantic couples, flowers, and springtime .
Marketing to youth and young adults
Youth are an important population for the tobacco industry, as smoking initiation most often occurs before the age of 21. Only three articles describing research on the marketing of menthol cigarettes to youth and young adults were identified [18–20].
Before describing this research on menthol cigarette marketing to youth, it is important to note the substantial role of tobacco advertising as an influencing factor for youth tobacco users. According to several cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys, adolescents (aged 12–17 years) have high receptivity to tobacco advertisements, and, in turn, high receptivity is associated with enhanced appeal of smoking, smoking initiation, and smoking progression (an increase in smoking behavior) among youths [21–25]. Specifically, surveys have shown that adolescents who report a high level of exposure to cigarette advertising are up to twice as likely to be cigarette smokers , and that receptivity to advertising is a stronger influencing factor in determining susceptibility to initiating smoking than exposure to peer or family smokers or sociodemographic variables . Receptivity to advertising has varied according to race/ethnicity, with the highest receptivity among non-Hispanic White adolescents, and lower levels among Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, and Asian American/Pacific Islander youth [26, 27] In addition, multiple studies have shown that young smokers (aged 13–18 years) use the most extensively advertised cigarette brands [28–30].
The strongest evidence of advertising as an important influence on youth tobacco use is a systematic review of longitudinal studies that found exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion to be associated with increased likelihood of smoking initiation among adolescents . However, advertisements for menthol cigarettes were not specifically evaluated in these surveys.
One study in the bibliography included a component to evaluate youth’s perceptions of menthol cigarettes. In this 2008 study, five focus groups were conducted among Black/African American children (mean age, 12–13 years) in Washington, D.C.; the total sample size was small (28 children), with three to eight children in each of 5 focus groups . Only four of the 28 children said that they had ever smoked. Limited findings were presented in the report, and menthol cigarettes were not specifically discussed. As part of some group discussions, the authors asked participants to recall specific tobacco marketing campaigns, and the following is an image recalled by one participant of a menthol cigarette brand: “They in the, the Kool magazine, they always have black people smoking…they were smoking and having fun…just standing up, like laughing” .
One study of advertising directed at youth was a cross-sectional study of 3,151 advertisements of tobacco products in 184 retail stores in Hawaii . Advertisements were weighted by size (small, medium, large) based on the hypothesis that larger ads may have greater visual impact. Among the four brands that accounted for two-thirds of the advertisements, the cigarette with the largest number of total ads based on weighted data (848 ads) was a menthol brand (Kool). Kool also had the most outdoor ads, and, overall, approximately 31% of stores within 1,000 feet of a school or a playground had outdoor tobacco ads. Kool is the leading brand smoked by youth in Hawaii, suggesting an association between use of menthol cigarettes and advertising, but the study was not designed to determine the presence of a causal relationship.
The other study specifically looking at the marketing of menthol cigarettes to younger individuals examined the perceived age of models in ads for menthol and non-menthol cigarettes  In that study, the researchers selected 50 ads (from 65 publications) that were judged to include a model whose face was “clearly visible.” Of the 12 brands of cigarettes in the ads, three were menthol (Newport, Newport Lights, and Kool Milds). A total of 22% of the models were perceived to be aged 18–24 years. Among the brands with the highest percentage of models perceived to be younger than 25 years were Kool Milds (5 of 10 models) and Newport Lights (1 of 2 models). On average, ads for menthol cigarettes tended to have models who were perceived as looking younger (mean: 25.7 years) than models in ads for non-menthol cigarettes (mean: 31.9 years). Ads for menthol cigarettes also tended to appear in magazines that had more youthful audiences. The average audience age was 31.1 for publications with Newport Lights ads and 31.3 for publications with Newport and Kool Milds ads, while the audience age for non-menthol cigarette ads ranged from 31.3 to 41.0, with the exception of Lucky Strike Lights (average audience age = 28.5).