Nearly 38 million Americans still smoke tobacco, and as inequality in America continues to expand by many measures, the smoking epidemic is a growing aspect of that divide.

Seventy-two percent of smokers are from lower-income communities, and this is no accident. Big Tobacco not only targets these communities to start smoking, but makes it harder for them to stop with products designed to be more addictive. These exploitative practices by the tobacco industry are the reason why smoking rates are nearly twice as high among people living below the poverty line.

truth® teamed with Imagine Dragons lead vocalist Dan Reynolds and country star Jon Pardi for “Worth More,” a new campaign that exposes the tobacco industry’s exploitation of residents in lower-income communities. These award-winning singers, along with young people from communities exploited by the tobacco industry, lend their voices to call out Big Tobacco for preying on the nation’s most vulnerable populations.

More information on the tobacco industry and its manipulation of lower-income communities:

Increasing Addictiveness

Appealing to Lower-Income Consumers

How did the tobacco industry make cigarettes more addictive?

Over the past 50-plus years, tobacco companies have leveraged modern science to manipulate their products to make them even more addictive. Experts found that tobacco companies genetically engineered their tobacco crops to contain two times the amount of nicotine and adjusted their cigarette design so that the nicotine delivered to smokers increased by 14.5 percent.

Why are 72 percent of smokers from lower-income communities?

Tobacco companies have targeted low-income populations in many ways. At different points in the past 60 years, tobacco companies have handed out free cigarettes to children in housing projects, issued tobacco coupons with food stamps and explored giving away financial products like prepaid debit cards. Today, several major tobacco industry practices contribute to higher smoking rates in low-income communities, including more retailers and more advertising, discounting and keeping prices low and increasing addiction over the past 50-plus years.

Other information on tobacco as a social justice issue:

Mental Health

Military

Race/Ethnicity

LGBT Communities

 

 

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