Pitt study finds inequality in tobacco advertising


Compared with Caucasians, African-Americans are exposed to more pro-tobacco advertising, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study published in this month’s Public Health Reports.
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, causing more than 440,000 deaths annually and costing more than 150 billion in direct and indirect costs each year; African-Americans currently bear the greatest burden of this morbidity and mortality. Although exposure to pro-tobacco media messages is now known to be a potent risk factor for tobacco use, whether African-Americans are in fact exposed to more pro-tobacco advertising has been unclear until now.

In the study, they evaluated data from both predominantly African-American and Caucasian markets using studies from peer-reviewed journals. By extracting the number of total media messages the number of tobacco-related messages, and the number of residents living in each market area, they were able to calculate the concentration and density of tobacco advertising in each market.

Concentration of tobacco advertising can be defined as the number of tobacco ads divided by the total number of ads. According to the data, the concentration of pro-smoking signage is approximately 70% higher for African-Americans and there are about 2.6 times as many ads per person in African-American areas as compared to Caucasian areas.