Elkhart community leaders and nonprofit holding event, calling for changes in tobacco industry

NOW: Elkhart community leaders and nonprofit holding event, calling for changes in tobacco industry

ELKHART, Ind. -- It is an ongoing conversation in Elkhart County, as numbers are continuing to rise at concerning rates for the sale of tobacco products, specifically among minority groups and teens. For Minority Health Coalition, it is not just the concerning effects of these products, but also their targeting advertisements.

It is referenced as ‘point of sale’ marketing where marketing targets consumers in retail settings. This includes tobacco advertisements, price discounts on tobacco products, and tobacco displays. Point of sale matters because it encourages teens to start using tobacco and makes quitting that much more difficult.

Specifically, tobacco companies are continuing to rely on menthol in their products. The soothing and cooling effects make cigarettes more appealing to new smokers, teens and minority groups.

Tara Morris with Minority Health Coalition explains this marketing is the nonprofits biggest cause for concern.

“Marketing in general,” says Morris, Executive Director. “So, it encourages individuals to smoke menthol cigarettes targeting minority community, and the youth, and it makes quitting even more difficult. So, when you see it, it disproportionately targets communities, and we need to think what it is doing to our communities.”

In Indiana, the tobacco industry spends about $293 million on tobacco marketing each year. This is $45 for every Hoosier.

Within that marketing, about 92% of the tobacco industry’s budget is spent on point of sale marketing. These issues are raising even more concerns in Elkhart County where 20% of tobacco retailers are within 1,000 feet of a school and target teens.

In fact, 94% of retailers sold any flavored tobacco product such as candy or fruit flavored that may appeal to the youth.  

“When you look at minorities, they come more addicted because when you get that cool sensation that is what is addictive because menthol really damages your lungs but they do not think about it they just think ok there is a big difference between smoking something regular and something that is adapted to menthol,” says Morris.   

Learn further information about Minority Health Coalition or how to attend the event here.

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