The National Center for Tobacco-Free Older Person

Tobacco & Adult Minorities
The Center for Social Gerontology
2307 Shelby Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103 tel: 734 665-1126 fax: 734 665-2071

African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics,
Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders

Updated 5/28/04

The information provided on this site by The Center for Social Gerontology pertains to tobacco use by and its effects on old and young adults from communities of color in the United States. Because people in communities of color have been specially targeted by the tobacco industry, with the resultant suffering and death from tobacco-related diseases, we have included information on legal remedies now being pursued to redress these wrongful acts by the tobacco industry -- specifically lawsuits and legislative action related to the recent state tobacco settlements. Information on this site will be updated regularly.

Fact Sheets on Tobacco & Minority Populations:

African American Adults and Tobacco: Fact Sheet

Native American Adults and Tobacco: Fact Sheet

Hispanic Adults and Tobacco: Fact Sheet

Asian American and Pacific Islander Adults and Tobacco: Fact Sheet

See also WHO: Gender, Health, and Tobacco, a pdf document explaining the differences in tobacco use and how tobacco affects men and women differently. here.

See also, Prevalence of Cigarette Use Among 14 Racial/Ethnic Populations -- United States, 1999-2001 Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report issued January 30, 2004

See also, Cigarette Smoking Among Adults -- United States, 2002; Includes racial & >65 data Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report issued May 28, 2004

See also the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco Use and Minorities Fact Sheet & Report.

See also the 2004 U.S. Surgeon General's Report on the Health Consequences of Smoking; New Report Expands List of Diseases Caused by Smoking Fact Sheets, Extensive Database & Report.

See also the 2001 U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Women and Smoking Fact Sheets & Report.

See also TCSG's Fact Sheet on Tobacco & Older Persons

Data on Adult Minority Populations -- Demographics, Health, etc.

Minority Aging InformationAdmin. on Aging site

Articles/Materials with Direct Links:

Kicking the Habit; "To the Contrary" to Air Special On Tobacco Control & The African American Community

According a June 5, 2002 news report, the PBS Network on its show To The Contrary will launch a special series of reports on the devastating impact of smoking on minority communities in the United States and disparities in tobacco control programs. The first show in the series airs the weekend of June 21st and will focus on Smoking & the African American Community. Copies of the programs and outreach material will be available to organizations seeking to participate in this public health awareness campaign. Smoking and the African American Community will profile an innovative anti-smoking program Not in Mama's Kitchen. This campaign harnesses the power of church, family, and food to encourage African American women to prohibit smoking in their homes and cars. The primary result is reduced exposure to secondhand smoke for the entire family. The program was created by Brenda Bell Caffee of California's African American Tobacco Education Network (AATEN). She tells us Not in Mama's Kitchen inspires women to say, "No smoking allowed, for the love of family, we"re not going to do this." She also tells us the exceptionally high incidence of asthma among African Americans heightens the risk associated with environmental tobacco smoke. To the Contrary also interviews Charyn Sutton a leading expert on tobacco and the African American Community. Sutton tells us that African Americans are three times as likely to smoke mentholated cigarettes, and are more likely to attempt to quit but less likely to succeed than the general population. Sutton also discusses the long history between the African American community and tobacco companies. African American communities continue to be the target of intense marketing by the tobacco industry. Billboards advertising tobacco products are placed in African American neighborhoods four times more often than in white neighborhoods. Tobacco companies disproportionately fund or sponsor African American community events, civic organizations, and institutions of higher education. The program will also feature a panel discussion with other experts and public policy makers including Sherri Watson Hyde of the American Medical Associations' Smokeless States Program and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. They'll discuss the need for culturally appropriate tobacco cessation and prevention programs, the importance of awareness within the African American community of the dangers of environmental tobacco smoke, and public policies affecting community based smoking prevention and cessation programs. To The Contrary takes an in-depth look at the issues involved in cigarette smoking among African Americans, the devastating effects of environmental tobacco smoke, and how the African American community is fighting back. Cigarettes & the African American Community, a special program on PBS' To The Contrary begins airing June 21, 2002. Visit or check your local listings for dates and times. For the full press advisory on this, click here.

Menthol Cigarette Data Conflicts

According to an Associated Press report: Recent studies have failed to settle the question of whether menthol makes cigarettes more dangerous, researchers said on March 22, 2002, calling for further investigation. Some experts suspect that the smoother, cooler sensation created by menthol leads smokers to drag more deeply on their cigarettes, causing them to absorb more nicotine into their lungs. Some suspect menthol may damage cells and allow cigarette toxins to seep through and cause cancer. The possibility is particularly alarming because blacks and teenagers, who already have higher smoking rates overall, are more likely to prefer menthol cigarettes, researchers said. "For decades we took the approach that tobacco products were so deadly, the ingredients were basically a side issue," said Jack Henningfield of Johns Hopkins University. "We're recognizing ingredients can make a lot of difference." Menthol is a chemical added to a broad variety of products, such as shaving cream, mouthwash and breath mints. In cigarettes, it is advertised as giving a cooler taste. Conflicting studies on whether menthol makes cigarettes more dangerous were reviewed on March 22nd at a conference held in Atlanta by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study presented by Dr. Neal Benowitz, a clinical pharmacologist at the University of California at San Francisco, found that menthol was not associated with higher intake of nicotine or carbon monoxide. But Karen Ahijevych of Ohio State University presented preliminary data showing menthol increases exposure to carbon monoxide, at least in men, and causes higher levels of nicotine in plasma. And some other studies suggest menthol may help damage cells, making them more permeable to cancerous toxins. The CDC called the conference to encourage more research. The agency itself has just begun a comprehensive study examining nicotine levels in people who switch from regular cigarettes to menthol. For the full news report, click here.

African American Advocates Seek & Obtain Removal of "Swisher Sweets" Menthol Cigars from Drugstore in New Orleans; Part of National Campaign

The rally in New Orleans, in November, 2001, was part of a national campaign organized by the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery and targeted "Swisher Sweets" Menthol Cigars because the cigars' advertising campaign is designed to get more young black people to light up, said the Rev. Jesse Brown of Philadelphia, the group's leader, at a pre-march press conference and pep rally. This type of marketing is "an insidious kind of approach," said the Rev. B.T. Rice of St. Louis. It apparently is working because young African Americans are smoking more cigars than their white counterparts, said Charyn Sutton, a consultant who researched the subject for Brown's organization. According to a national survey of middle-schoolers, nearly 9 percent of black youngsters who smoked used cigars, compared with nearly 5 percent of white pupils. "That is a frightening statistic," she said. No one at Swisher International Group Inc., the cigar's manufacturer, could be reached for comment. For more on this, click here.

Surgeon General's Report Finds 35% of Native American Women Use Tobacco: A news report from Nebraska discusses the high rates of smoking among Native American women. The story puts a personal face on the data found in the 2001 Surgeon General's Report on Women and Tobacco. The story points out that 35% of Native American women are smokers; this is the highest rate among all female groups. Click here for the news article. Click here for a link to the Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco & Women.

NEWPORT: "FASTEST GROWING CIGARETTE IN THE COUNTRY:" This article by Charyn Sutton of The Onyx Group describes the recent rise in smokers who buy Newport cigarettes. While Newport continues to be a clear favorite among African American youth and adults, in recent years, Newport has made significant gains among white and Hispanic youth smokers. Newport is now the second largest selling cigarette in the U.S., trailing only market leader Marlboro; and Marlboro has now introduced its own menthol cigarette. Click here for article.

ASIAN AMERICAN & PACIFIC ISLANDERS SUBSTANCE ABUSE INFORMATION The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information has produced a web page with links to a wide variety of articles and information on Asian American and Pacific Islanders and substance abuse, including tobacco. The site makes the point that much more study is needed of substance abuse use in these communities and, specifically, among the many distinct communities that are covered by the umbrella terms "Asian American & Pacific Islanders." Click here to link to the web page.

SMOKING CESSATION AMONG AFRICAN AMERICANS: WHAT WE KNOW & DO NOT KNOW ABOUT INTERVENTIONS & SELF-QUITTING: This abstract is to an article of the above title by Linda Pederson, et al which was published in Preventive Medicine in the July, 2000 issue. The article reviewed journal articles published from 1988 to 1998 on smoking cessation interventions and self-quitting which have focused on African Americans. The analysis concluded that some smoking cessation interventions appeared to be useful, but little information was available on self-quitting. Click here for the abstract.

SMOKING CESSATION & AFRICAN AMERICANS: The Onyx Group prepared this summary on smoking cessation and African Americans for presentation at the 2nd annual Pennsylvania African American Tobacco Control Conference in November, 2000. To access the summary, click here.

MASSACHUSETTS LAUNCHES AD CAMPAIGN TO STOP MINORITIES FROM SMOKING: This article describes an ad campaign started in June, 2000 by the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program to specifically target anti-tobacco, pro-health advertising to minority populations, including African-American, Hispanic, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Cambodian and Vietnamese. The $4 million campaign will use foreign-language radio and TV stations and newspapers, and uses minority actors and language-specific audio. Click here.

ELIMINATING POPULATION DISPARITIES IN TOBACCO CONTROL: This article is a Guest Editorial by Robert Robinson, Dr. PH, the Associate Director for Program Development of the Office on Smoking and Health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention; it is in the Spring, 2000 issue of Nobacco News published by the SmokeLess States project of the American Medical Association. This excellent article discusses, from a multicultural perspective, the alternative assumptions that should be considered when attempting to eliminate disparities in tobacco use among various population groups, including communities of color, women, gays and lesbians, persons with low educational or income status, etc. Click here.

GUIDELINES FOR TOBACCO PREVENTION AND CONTROL IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY: In April, 2000, the Onyx Group issued these new and updated guidelines for the funding and implementation of tobacco prevention and control programs in the Black community. As the Onyx Group states, these 14 brief guidelines could also apply to other communities of color and specialized groups. These guidelines are a refinement of ones issued by Onyx in April, 1999 (see below). To access the Guidelines, click here.

BIBLIOGRAPHY ON NATIVE AMERICAN ELDERS: The following link is to a good bibliography of information on Native American elders; it includes references to books, periodicals, government publications, a couple statutory references, and online resources with links to them. Some of the sources listed include information about other minority populations as well. While there is nothing in these sources specifically about tobacco and Native American elders, it is a good supplement to other information on this topic. This bibliography was prepared in May, 1999 by a graduating law student at the University of Kansas. Go to Link.

TOBACCO AND ITS MONEY HAVE MINORITY ALLIES IN NEW YORK: The New York Times article of January 4, 2000 which can be accessed here describes the linkages which the tobacco industry has built with its money to New York state legislators and groups. While this article focuses on New York state and minorities, it is symptomatic of the way the tobacco industry uses its money to try to buy influence with many groups, including aging, arts, sports, etc. Click for the Article.

UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS AMONG MINORITIES, STATE BY STATE: On March 24, 2000, the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released a report which summarizes findings from the 1997 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS), looking specifically at risky health behaviors among the five major US racial/ethnic groups (African Americans, Native Americans, Asians/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and whites). The report shows significant differences in these risky behaviors from state to state. The risky behaviors include: SMOKING, obesity, lack of exercise, etc. Because the report breaks out the information by state, it can be very useful for preventive health purposes and for public policy advocacy. For the full report, clickhere.

SMOKING PREVALENCE AMONG AMERICAN INDIANS & ALASKA NATIVES A February 4, 2000 article released by the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention provided recent data on three key health risk factors for American Indians and Alaska Natives; one such factor is SMOKING. The article includes a table with the percentages of smokers among these populations. As past studies have shown, smoking is particularly high among both Alaska Natives and American Indians in almost all regions of the country; only among American Indians in the southwest do the smoking rates fairly closely mirror smoking rates among whites. The article/table does not break out smoking rates by age but simply for all adults. To access this article, click here.

Looking for a Smoke-Free Vietnamese Community: A New Ad Campaign This June 11, 1999 news article describes a new advertising campaign in California which is targeted to the Vietnamese community, especially men, who are among the heaviest smokers in the state. Many of the ads feature Vietnamese celebrities and will appear on television and in Vietnamese newspapers through mid-2001. News article.

Communities of Color & State Tobacco Settlement Funding: Draft Guidelines. These draft guidelines were developed in April, 1999 by The Onyx Group in Pennsylvania for use by African American groups, as well as groups representing other communities of color. The guidelines are to assist groups to better assure that communities of color receive a fair share of state tobacco settlement funds. Guidelines.

Fact Sheet: How Does the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement on Tobacco Affect African Americans? This describes how the non-monetary provisions of the settlement agreement between the states and the tobacco industry affect African Americans. Prepared by the Onyx Group and the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery. (For the complete analysis, go to: The Onyx Group page) Fact Sheet.

Women Smoking Menthol Cigarettes Have a Greater Nicotine Exposure. Press release of March 19, 1999 describing an article in the January/February issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors. The article is particularly relevant for African American women since about 65% or more of African American smokers use mentholated cigarettes versus about 25% to 30% of white smokers. Press release.

Lawsuits Against the Tobacco Industry by Minority Populations:

African American lawsuits:

Texas Southern University lawsuit vs. State of Texas. In May, 1999, Texas Southern University law professors filed two federal lawsuits against the State of Texas alleging that Texas discriminates against historically Black colleges with a segregated higher education system and with its funding decisions. One of the lawsuits seeks to block the allocation of $956 million in TOBACCO SETTLEMENT FUNDS which the legislature voted to go to medical schools, but only those institutions with health, medical and science-related graduate and research programs -- none of the historically Black colleges meet these criteria. "All the [settlement] money was allocated to majority-white institutions. None of it was allocated to Texas Southern, Prairie View or the other nine historically Black colleges and universities. Basically, we want a share of the funds, and we want a substantial share," stated Professor Grover Hankins of Texas Southern Law School. See attached News article. May 15, 1999

Rev. Jesse Brown et al vs. Philip Morris et al This civil rights class-action lawsuit, filed on October 19, 1998 in Federal District court in Philadelphia, PA, seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages as well as injunctive relief from the major tobacco companies (cigarette and smokeless tobacco products) and their trade associations and public relations firms. The suit claims that for years these tobacco companies engaged in a conspiracy to conceal from, mislead and deceive African Americans regarding the dangers of menthol, nicotine and other dangerous and toxic additives in menthol cigarettes and menthol smokeless tobacco products; these actions have resulted in devastating harm to the health of African Americans.

APPEALS COURT REJECTS MENTHOL LAWSUIT FILED BY REV. BROWN et al On May 17, 2001, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Rev. Jesse Brown and others who had filed a lawsuit against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies which claimed that the cigarette makers had intentionally targeted African Americans in the production and marketing of menthol brand cigarettes. While the majority in the 3-judge panel upheld the U.S. District Court's dismissal of the case for failure to state a claim, thereby not allowing the case to be argued on its merits, one judge dissented and stated that he felt the case should have been heard so that Brown et al could have their day in court to prove the truth of their claims against the tobacco companies. For a news report on the decision, click above. For the full opinion, click here. See more on this case below.

AFRICAN AMERICAN "MENTHOL CASE" GOES TO FEDERAL APPEALS COURT On January 19, 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit heard an appeal of the earlier dismissal of the "menthol cigarette case" brought by Reverend Jesse Brown and others against the tobacco industry for targeting African Americans with menthol brand cigarettes. The lawsuit also alleges that menthol cigarettes are more dangerous than unmentholated brands because menthol compounds, when burned, create additional toxic substances. The appeal asked that the class action lawsuit be reinstated by the court. For news article, click here.

Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit on Sept. 23, 1999; Appeal LikelyU.S. District Court Judge John Padova dismissed the Brown vs Philip Morris, et al lawsuit on September 23rd, ruling that the federal civil rights statutes did not prohibit the marketing of menthol cigarettes to specific groups, including African Americans. The case had been a novel one because of the legal theories being advanced, and the court was not prepared to agree with the plaintiffs, in spite of clear evidence that minorities are targeted by the tobacco industry and that the product is dangerous. Rev. Jesse Brown and the other plaintiffs have appealed this lower court ruling. For more information on the ruling, see news articles.

Brown vs. Philip Morris et al: Arguments to dismiss case.This article discusses the key points raised by both sides in this case when the tobacco companies sought, in April, 1999, to have the case dismissed.News article.

Press Release on Lawsuit. Prepared by the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery.

Menthol Civil Rights Lawsuit: Fact Sheet. Prepared by the National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery.

Information & Updates on Status of Lawsuit: Link

Copy of Brown vs. Philip Morris lawsuit: Link

Liggett case.Liggett Tobacco currently has a nationwide class action case pending in Alabama in which Liggett is attempting to obtain a settlement of all claims by smokers -- current and future -- against it. On April 26, 1999 attorneys for Black smokers sought to intervene in the case so that they could argue that the settlement should not be approved with regard to Black persons since it would preclude any future claims.News article.

Native American lawsuits:

Table Bluff Reservation & 19 other tribes v. Philip Morris, et al: Lawsuit Dismissed by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

On July 16, 2001 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed in 1999 by 20 American Indian tribes seeking a share of the state tobacco settlements entered into by 46 states (the suit did not include the settlement enetered into by Mississippi, Florida, Texas and Minnesota which were settled individually). The court held that the tribes had not demonstrated the injury in fact required to establish standing to bring the suit. Among other things, the court also stated that the tribes would benefit from the state tobacco settlement funds in the same manner as other citizens of the 46 states. For the full opinion in the case, click here. For a news article on this and related cases, click here. For more details on this case and the U.S. District Court ruling which the 9th Circuit Court upheld, see items immediately below.

Multi-tribe lawsuit vs. Philip Morris, et al. On June 2, 1999, Native Americans from 20 tribes and pueblos filed a class action lawsuit in Federal District court in San Francisco against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies. The lawsuit claims that Native Americans were wrongfully excluded from the $206 billion settlement between the tobacco industry and 46 states, and seeks more than $1 billion in damages. It is unclear whether the lawsuit will have an impact on the finality of the state lawsuits and thereby hold up distribution of the settlement funds to the states, although the suit does seek to prohibit the distribution of any settlement proceeds that should have gone to the tribes. In filing the lawsuit, the tribes claimed that Indians were counted in census data used to determine how the money would be distributed but were not allotted their own share of the funds. The suit claims that this is a violation of Indian sovereignty and amounts to racial discrimination. They also claim that these actions violated the due process clause of the constitution and their civil rights, as well as constituted a direct assault on tribes' right to self-determination and governance. See attached News articles: June 3 & 4, 1999

Multi-tribe suit seeks injunction blocking some settlement funds distribution On June 22nd, a coalition of 20 tribes and pueblos filed a request for a preliminary injunction against the major tobacco companies who are a part of the $206 billion settlement. The tribes are seeking to block part of the distribution of the $206 billion to the 46 states. The request, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where the tribes filed a class action lawsuit against the tobacco companies on June 2nd (see above), argues that the settlement does not provide for direct payments to American Indians and infringes on tribal sovereignty. The tribes claim the injunction is necessary to protect their share of the settlement funds before the money is transferred from escrow accounts to the 46 states where the money is likely to get lost in the general accounts of the states. The injunction also seeks to block those portions of the nationwide settlement that interfere with tribal sovereignty. A hearing on the request is expected in late August. News article.

Federal Court Dismisses Multi-tribe Suit on Nov. 12, 1999 The lawsuit brought by 19 American Indian tribes in June, 1999 against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies was dismissed on November 12, 1999 in San Francisco by U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel. The suit had claimed that the tribes were wrongly excluded from the 46-state, $206 billion tobacco settlement agreement and sought more than $1 billion in damages and had sought to hold up distribution of the state settlement funds. It is unclear at this time if an appeal will be filed by the tribes. See news article.

Alabama Coushatta Tribe Lawsuit v. Philip Morris, et al Dismissed by U.S. District Court in Texas

On August 30, 2001 U.S. District Court Judge Thad Heartfield of the Eastern U.S. District Court of Texas dismissed the lawsuit filed on August 30, 2000 by the Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas (see more on this case below). The judge ruled that the tribe was not entitled to recoup state tobacco settlement funds from Texas for health problems of tribe members. The ruling said that the tribe had not shown that it had suffered any injury and that the claims were too remote. This ruling is consistent with rulings in other similar cases against tobacco companies, such as those filed by labor union health plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, public hospitals, foreign governments and health maintenance organizations. For a news article on the ruling, click here.

Alabama Coushatta Tribe Files Lawsuit v. Philip Morris, et al in Texas

On August 30, 2000 attorney Gaines West filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Beaumont, Texas against 11 tobacco companies, including Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and B.A.T. Industries, on behalf of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. The suit seeks unspecified, substantial restitution from the tobacco companies for the tribe's health care costs due to tobacco-related diseases. The suit charges that the tobacco companies manipulated nicotine levels in cigarettes to make them more addictive and damaged the health, welfare and property of tribe members. Further, the suit states that the tobacco settlement entered into by Texas specifically excluded Native American groups. The suit is similar to others filed by tribes in New Mexico and California (see below). Click here for news article.

Acoma Pueblo & 44 Other Tribes Lawsuit v. Philip Morris, et al Dismissed by U.S. District Court in New Mexico

On July 30, 2001, U.S. District Court Judge Edwin Mechem of the U.S. District Court in New Mexico dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Acoma Pueblo and 44 other tribes, nations and pueblos seeking damages from the tobacco industry for health care expenses incurred as a result of diseases caused by tobacco use (see more on this case below, which started with 34 tribes, but expanded to 45 tribes as the suit progressed). The court ruled that the injuries claimed by the tribes were legally too indirect and remote; the court added that the tribes were trying to recover monies belonging to the federal government, not to the tribes. This ruling is also consistent with rulings in other similar cases against tobacco companies, such as those filed by labor union health plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, public hospitals, foreign governments and health maintenance organizations. The ruling follows the July 17, 2001 U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the Table Bluff Tribe case (see above) in which the court dismissed a lawsuit seeking tobacco settlement funds for 20 other tribes. Click here for news article.

Indian Country Today article on 34 Tribe lawsuit This article provides an in-depth discussion of the lawsuit filed in Santa Fe on June 16, 1999 by 34 tribes against the tobacco industry (see below). The article leads in with an excellent picture of a Joe Camel ad targeting Indians. [Indian Country Today, June 28-July 5, 1999.] Link.

Santa Fe 34 Tribe lawsuit vs. Philip Morris, et al.

Philip Morris, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco and five other tobacco companies were sued by 34 American Indian tribes and pueblos in a case filed in New Mexico District Court in Santa Fe on June 16th. The lawsuit seeks restitution for smoking-related medical costs incurred by hospitals run by the tribes and for treatment received through the Indian Health Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. No specific amount of damages was sought, but the suit states that smoking-related health care costs for Indians total at least $200 million annually. This lawsuit should not have any impact on the finality of the state tobacco settlement lawsuits because it is not seeking a share of the settlement funds, but is instead seeking additional funds for these claims. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the tribes by Albuquerque's Branch Law Firm, and was filed not as a class action but simply on behalf of the 34 tribes, although the number of tribes may grow as other tribes vote to join the suit. This case comes on the heels of another suit filed in San Francisco on June 2nd (see above) as a class action on behalf of 20 tribes who are seeking a share of the $206 billion state settlements. The Santa Fe lawsuit charges that tobacco companies deliberately manipulated nicotine levels to create tobacco addiction among tribal members and targeted Indian children through their advertising, including using an image of Joe Camel in an Indian headdress with eagle feathers. See attached News articles.June 14 & 15, 1999

Major tribal lawsuit against tobacco industry expected in 1999

Attorneys in New Mexico announced on March 4, 1999 that they expect to file shortly a lawsuit against the major tobacco companies on behalf of more than a dozen American Indian tribes. Stating that the recent settlement the tobacco industry made with the states excluded Indian tribes, the attorneys said a similar settlement with American Indian tribes could cost the tobacco industry $2 to $5 billion. News article: March 5, 1999


On February 20, 2001, the Native village of Tanana, in Alaska, together with the Cherokee Nation, filed a motion to intervene in the U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The motion to intervene was filed on behalf of all Indian tribes and tribal organizations that have furnished or paid for health care for their members. The complaint alleges that Native Americans have been disproportionately hurt by illnesses caused by tobacco products and states that about 20% of all Native health care costs have been due to illnesses caused by tobacco products. The complaint states that more than half of Native high school students smoke or use chew tobacco, a substantially higher rate than any other group in the United States. Further, the complaint says that 43% of Alaska Natives smoke, which is nearly double the statewide smoking rate of 26.6%. Attorneys representing the Native groups said they expect a decision on the motion in a few months.

Navajo lawsuit vs. Tobacco Industry

On August 11, 1999, the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit in Navajo court alleging that Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies deceived Navajo Nation consumers, illegally targeted minors and burdened their health system, as well as violated the recently enacted Navajo Nation Tobacco Liability Enforcement and Recovery Act. The suit did not specify damages, but attorney Steve Mitchell said tribal law allows the tribe to be compensated for three times the amount paid by Navajos for cigarettes purchased on the Navajo Reservation for the past 20 years. The Navajo Nation will be seeking costs such as those incurred by the Medicaid program. Attorney General Levon B. Henry said the goal is simple: "we want the defendants to follow the law, to tell the whole truth and to repay those who have been harmed by their conduct." The Navajo Nation is the nation's largest Indian tribe and has very high smoking rates, with 47.5% of high school age youth in 1997 being smokers. News articles.

Court Grants Tribes' Request to be Excluded from Liggett class action case.

In the currently pending nationwide class action lawsuit in Alabama, Liggett Tobacco is seeking to obtain a settlement of all current and future claims against it by smokers. At a hearing on April 26, 1999, an attorney for Indian tribes was granted a request to have the tribes excluded from the case after having argued that the tribes should be treated as a foreign nation when it comes to the settlement.News article.

Standing Rock and Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribes vs. tobacco industry. This lawsuit, filed in tribal court on behalf of tribes in North and South Dakota, against the four major American cigarette companies seeks reimbursement for health care costs expended by the tribes for treating tobacco-related diseases endured by members of the tribes. News article: March 16, 1999

Legislative Actions to Obtain Tobacco Settlement Funds:

State Tobacco Settlement Initiatives: Native Americans -- In a number of states, Native Americans have either filed legislation or advocated for direct allotments of state tobacco settlement funds for health or tobacco prevention and cessation programs for Native Americans. For information on these initiatives, review the information on TCSG's Tobacco Settlement Funds - State Updates site. At this time, action has been taken in the following state(s): California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana, Ohio, Washington state.

State Tobacco Settlement Initiatives: African Americans -- In a number of states, African Americans have either filed legislation or advocated for direct allotments of state tobacco settlement funds for health or tobacco prevention and cessation programs for African Americans. In some states this has been initiated by members of the legislative Black Caucus. For information on these initiatives, review the information on TCSG's Tobacco Settlement Funds - State Updates site. At this time, action has been taken in the following state(s): California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington state.News articles.

State Tobacco Settlement Initiatives: Hispanics -- In a number of states, Hispanics have either filed legislation or advocated for direct allotments of state tobacco settlement funds for health or tobacco prevention and cessation programs for Hispanics. For information on these initiatives, review the information on TCSG's Tobacco Settlement Funds - State Updates site. At this time, action has been taken in the following state(s): California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington state.

State Tobacco Settlement Initiatives: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders -- In a number of states, Asian Americans &/or Pacific Islanders have either filed legislation or advocated for direct allotments of state tobacco settlement funds for health or tobacco prevention and cessation programs for Asian Americans &/or Pacific Islanders. For information on these initiatives, review the information on TCSG's Tobacco Settlement Funds - State Updates site. At this time, action has been taken in the following state(s): California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington state.News article.

Key References:

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. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, Office on Smoking & Health, 1998. [This excellent 330 page report also provides extensive bibliographic references on this topic.]

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, October 9, 1998, Vol. 47, No. RR-18. Provides the Executive Summary of the 1998 Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, which is cited above. Link

The Tobacco Industry's Targeting of Women & People of Color. STAT (Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco), Boston, MA, 1994. [This is one of a series of STAT Speaker's Guide & Slide Collection publications; it includes text and 80 slides for easy use in conducting training sessions and presentations.]

Cigarette Smoking and Smoking Cessation Among Older Adults: United States, 1965-94. Husten, C.G., Shelton, D.M., Chrismon, J.H., Lin, W., Mowery, P., Powell, F.A., Tobacco Control, Autumn, 1997; Vol. 6, No. 3. [This excellent article provides demographic information and analysis of patterns of smoking and smoking cessation among older Americans, including data on African American and Hispanic elders.]


National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI):

CDC (Centers for Disease Control -- Office of Smoking & Health): For a wealth of information on tobacco and health issues, including information on smoking and minorities and links to other relevant sites.