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STANFORD UNIVERSITY — Tobacco companies increased the advertising and lowered the sale price of menthol cigarettes in stores near California high schools with larger populations of African-American students, according to a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Although cigarette makers have denied using race or ethnicity to target customers, the lead researcher for the study said the data shows a “predatory” marketing pattern geared to luring young African Americans into becoming smokers.

“The tobacco companies went out of their way to argue to the Food & Drug Administration that they don’t use racial targeting,” said Lisa Henriksen, PhD, senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “This evidence is not consistent with those claims.”

Henriksen is the first author of this study, which was published online June 24 in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The study comes at a time when the FDA is gathering information on whether to ban  menthol as a flavoring agent in cigarettes. A federal law passed in 2008 banned 13 candy flavorings in cigarettes but allowed for the continued use of menthol. Menthol makes the smoke from tobacco smoother and less harsh; even non- menthol cigarettes often have low levels of the substance.

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Also on Stanford Knowledgebase:

  1. Stanford Researcher’s Online Map Pinpoints Cigarette Factories Around the World
  2. Physicians Missing Self-injury Behavior in Youths with Eating Disorders, Study Finds
  3. Fiscal Failings of the Government’s Tobacco Settlement

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