The Facts
Tobacco Industry

tobacco industry needs new customers as their current customers die from smoking-related diseases. Last year, the tobacco industry spent roughly $309,000 per day to market tobacco products to Coloradans. Compare that to what the state was able to spend to prevent tobacco use – only $18,000 per day. 

Why is there such a big gap? One main reason is that Colorado has to spend $319 million a year to cover Medicaid expenses for treatment directly related to tobacco use. 

So what does $309,000 worth of marketing per day provide? Who is the target of these messages? 

Read on to learn how the tobacco industry manipulates and targets you.

Industry Targeting 

The tobacco industry is spending not just millions, but billions, to keep its products in demand. Keep reading to learn who their main targets are.


Consider that 75 percent of teens visit a convenience store at least once a week. 

Studies of tobacco ads in convenience stores found:
  • 50 percent of tobacco ads were located at kids' eye level (three feet from the floor or lower). 
  • 23 percent of tobacco ads were located within six inches of candy. 
This is an intentional move on part of the tobacco companies to get their products in the hands – or at least on the minds – of kids and teens. 

People of Color 

People of color are another key audience of tobacco companies. Tobacco brand names often point to which groups they seek to reach. American Spirit, Rio and Dorado – these are brands that have been heavily marketed toward Native Americans and Hispanics.

A recent report found the average African American adult is exposed to 892 tobacco ads a year. That's far more than most every other group. 

Tobacco products containing menthol are also advertised more in African American communities.As a result, 80 percent of adolescent African American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, while less than 25 percent of white adolescent smokers prefer menthol cigarettes. 

This is especially troubling as menthol cigarettes deliver higher amounts of poisonous carbon monoxide and increase the amount of nicotine the body absorbs. Yet menthol cigarettes remain available even though all other cigarettes with flavor additives were banned as a result of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.


Women are exposed to 617 tobacco ads per year. These ads frequently portray tobacco use as making women sexy and desirable. Tobacco ads targeting women often present smoking as a method of weight control. 

An example of the tobacco's industry targeting of women includes the Camel No. 9 brand, introduced in 2007. The cigarettes were packaged in a glossy black box with hot pink or teal borders. Promotional items for the cigarettes included lip balm, cell phone jewelry, purses and wristbands all in hot pink.

Low-Income Individuals 

Low-income communities are another target market for the tobacco industry. Nationwide, 29 percent of adults below the poverty level use tobacco, compared to 18 percent of adults above the poverty level. 

The tobacco industry is paying attention and floods lower income communities with marketing efforts such as coupons and discounts to make its harmful products more affordable, keeping low-income families trapped by addiction. 

A 2001 study found that 43 percent of families who struggled to put enough food on the table had a head of household or spouse who smoked. On average, the addiction caused those families to spend $34 a week on cigarettes -- money that otherwise could have gone to groceries.

Don’t be a victim of the tobacco companies’ manipulation. Click here to quit today.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Cigarette Report for 2009 and 2010, 2012,
Feighery, EC, et al., "An examination of trends in amount and type of cigarette advertising and sales promotions in California stores, 2002-2005," Tobacco Control, February 26, 2008.
Feighery, E, et al., "Cigarette advertising and promotional strategies in retail outlets: results of a statewide survey in California," Tobacco Control 10L:184-188, 2001.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups—African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General. 1998.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. 2001.