Stop Big Tobacco
from targeting
Minnesota kids


About the Campaign

Minnesota should end the sale of all flavored commercial tobacco products — including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, e-cigarettes, hookah and smokeless tobacco. Ending flavored tobacco sales will prevent youth addiction and create a healthier future for everyone.

Big Tobacco uses flavored products to attract and hook kids, Black Minnesotans, LGBTQIA2S+ people and other communities. The industry uses thousands of flavors in high nicotine e-cigarettes to hook kids. Cigars, chewing tobacco, blunt wraps, hookah and shisha are also targeted to kids and sold in fruit, candy, dessert and novelty flavors ranging from apple and mango to cotton candy and mint/menthol.



of 11th graders and 78% of Minnesota's 8th graders who use tobacco report they use flavored products



of Minnesota 11th graders and 6% of 8th graders say they use e-cigarettes



of youth e-cigarette users in Minnesota are showing signs of nicotine dependence

Minnesota has long been a leader in tobacco prevention, and it is ready to join other states in ending flavored tobacco sales. To date, 29 Minnesota communities have passed policies that restrict or prohibit the sale of flavored and/or menthol tobacco products, and more than a quarter of the state's population is covered by a flavored tobacco policy.

Now is the time to put the health of all Minnesotans ahead of tobacco industry profits by ending the sale of menthol and all flavored tobacco products. Join us in asking Minnesota lawmakers to clear the marketplace of all flavored tobacco products. Your voice matters.


Big Tobacco's Lethal and Unjust Targeting

The tobacco industry uses predatory and relentless tactics to attract new customers and keep people addicted. Big Tobacco continues to use powerful marketing tactics to segment people based on their race, gender and sexual orientation.

In particular, the tobacco industry has used menthol flavors and marketing to segment and target certain customers, especially Black Americans, youth and LGBTQIA2S+ communities (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and Two-Spirit).

In the Black Community

For decades, tobacco companies have targeted Black communities with menthol tobacco products and marketing.

As a result of that targeting, today 85% of Black people who smoke vs. 29% of white people who smoke use menthols.

Institutional racism plays a part in these ongoing disparities: despite overwhelming evidence of this targeting, the FDA excluded menthol products from the 2009 federal law that took other flavored cigarettes off the market

Delnevo, CD, et al., "Banning Menthol Cigarettes: A Social Justice Issue Long Overdue," Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 22(10): 1673-1675, 2020.

In the American Indian Community

Smoking is an epidemic-level health problem in Minnesota's tribal communities. The cigarette smoking rate for American Indians in Minnesota is 59%.

An estimated 42% of urban American Indian smokers in Minnesota use menthol.

Unfortunately, these disparities start young. The 2022 Minnesota Student Survey found 25 % of American Indian students were current tobacco users.

For generations, the commercial tobacco industry has corrupted Native tobacco practices and has exploited Native images and beliefs in advertisements.

Forster J, Poupart J, Rhodes K, et al. Cigarette Smoking Among Urban American Indian Adults - Hennepin and Ramsey Counties, Minnesota, 2011.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016;2016(65):534-537.)

Minnesota Department of Health. 2022 Minnesota Student Survey.

D'Silva J, O'Gara E, Villaluz NT Tobacco industry misappropriation of American Indian culture and traditional tobacco. Tobacco Control 2018;27:e57-e64.

In the LGBTQIA2S+ Community

The tobacco industry has shamefully targeted the LGBTQIA2S+ community, including with the infamous "Project SCUM" marketing program.

Nationally, 51% of lesbian or gay and 46% of bisexual smokers use menthol cigarettes. Among Minnesota 11th graders, 20% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer students said they currently use tobacco products.

RJ Reynolds. Project SCUM. December 12, 1995.

Delnevo, CD, et al., "Banning Menthol Cigarettes: A Social Justice Issue Long Overdue," Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 22(10): 1673-1675, 2020.

Johnson SE, Holder-Hayes E, Tessman GK, King BA, Alexander T, Zhao X. Tobacco Product Use Among Sexual Minority Adults: Findings From the 2012-2013 National Adult Tobacco Survey. Am J Prev Med. 2016;50(4):e91-e100.

Minnesota Department of Health. 2022 Minnesota Student Survey.

Targeting Other Communities

Tobacco industry documents reveal that Big Tobacco has engaged in decades-long segmentation and targeting of Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander immigrants in the U.S.

Black youth have higher rates of cigar smoking than their white counterparts, thanks to Big Tobacco's marketing.

Big Tobacco targeted AAPI communities, taking advantage of their unique countries of origin and cultural norms, high levels of business ownership, and other attributes.

Flavored hookah products are also targeted at youth. Hookah use is not unique to any community or culture and is becoming increasingly common among young people from many different backgrounds.

Acevedo-Garcia D, Barbeau E, Bishop JA, Pan J, Emmons KM. Undoing an epidemiological paradox: the tobacco industry's targeting of US Immigrants. Am J Public Health. 2004;94(12):2188-2193. doi:10.2105/ajph.94.12.2188

Delnevo, CD, et al., "Banning Menthol Cigarettes: A Social Justice Issue Long Overdue," Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 22(10): 1673-1675, 2020.

2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey

Muggli ME, Pollay RW, Lew R, Joseph AM. Targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by the tobacco industry: results from the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository. Tobacco Control

Momenabadi, V., Hossein Kaveh PhD, M., Hashemi, S. Y., & Borhaninejad, V. R. (2016). Factors Affecting Hookah Smoking Trend in the Society: A Review Article. Addiction & health, 8(2), 123-135.

Targeting Teens

Why is Big Tobacco so obsessed with hooking teens? Here's why: if teens never start smoking, they probably never will. Nearly all smokers (95% to be exact) start by the time they're 21. Big Tobacco knows this and uses the same tactics they used for smoking to hook kids on vaping. In fact, internal documents revealed e-cigarette giant JUUL targeted kids as young as eight years old. JUUL used a sophisticated marketing program that included summer camp, school programs and hundreds of young social media influencers.

Congressional memo. Supplemental Memo for Hearing on 'Examining JUUL's Role in the Youth Nicotine Epidemic: Parts I & II.' June 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2014. Analysis by the American Lung Association.


Our Partners

We are a coalition of more than 50 organizations that share a common goal of advancing justice by striving toward a future where every person is free from commercial tobacco's harms and can reach their full health potential.

Our partners include:

A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation
Advocates for Better Health
Allina Health
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
American Lung Association in Minnesota
Association for Nonsmokers - Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Cancer Legal Care
Children's Minnesota
Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio - CLUES
Dodge County Public Health
Essentia Health
Eugene Nichols
Faribault Martin & Watonwan Co SHIP
Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare
Hennepin County Public Health
Hennepin Healthcare
Horizon Public Health

Indigenous Peoples Task Force
Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative
Local Public Health Association of Minnesota
Masonic Cancer Center
University of Minnesota
Mayo Clinic
Meeker McLeod Sibley Community Health Services
MHA - Minnesota Hospital Association
Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians
Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers
Minnesota Cancer Alliance
Minnesota Council of Health Plans
Minnesota Dental Association
Minnesota Medical Association
Minnesota Public Health Association
Minnesota Society for Public Health Education
Minnesota Youth Council

MNAAP - Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Mowery Communications, LLC
NAMI Minnesota
NorthPoint Health & Wellness
Olmsted Medical Center
Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes
PartnerSHIP 4 Health
Perham Health
Public Health Law Center
Rainbow Health
SEIU Healthcare Minnesota
Steele County Public Health
Tobacco-Free Alliance
WellShare International
Winona County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention