The marketing of menthol cigarettes toward African Americans is a social justice issue. Tobacco Industry documents reveal that as early as the 1950s, the industry has made concerted efforts to forge ties with the African American community in an effort to build a positive brand identity. The tobacco industry has saturated the African-American community with provocative advertising, free cigarette-giveaways, and cheaper prices to ensure that their products were disproportionately consumed by African-Americans.

Unfortunately, African-American smokers are less likely than white smokers to successfully quit smoking. These lower cessation rates may be attributed to the fact that African Americans generally have higher levels of nicotine dependence as a consequence of their preference for mentholated cigarettes. In the absence of FDA action on menthol products, local communities are taking action to restrict the sale of these products, especially around schools.