Not Past It - Big Tobacco's Minty Rebrand


It’s 1981 and model, David Garlits is posing for Winston cigarettes.

Latest ad campaign near the top of Mount Evans in Colorado.

He’s got that feathered 80s hair but he looks tough Macho, even with a smoke dangling.


At the side of his mouth, a photo crew captures, the rugged model, while some Executives watch on And during this shoot, David is having a breathtaking experience.

That certainly felt the effects of my smoking addiction, not being able to breathe.


David was the perfect spokesperson for these ads because he smoked three and a half packs of cigarettes a day.

During breaks.

The crew, hooks him up to an oxygen machine.

David keeps taking his mask off to smoke.

After a while, he notices that the suits aren’t joining him on the smoke breaks.


So he asks, one of the executives like hey what’s the deal?

He turned to me and said you don’t smoke the shit, we just sell it and I laughed and he said we reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid stupid.

From gimlet media.


This is not past it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind every episode.

We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.

I’m Simone plannin on January 11th, 1964, 59 years ago, this week, the US Surgeon General released a bombshell report detailing.


The harmful effects of smoking and what their Backs against the wall.

Tobacco companies got creative the industry, crafted new tactics to Target vulnerable communities using strategies that were secretive.


Effective eventually though one Community caught on and fought back.


So don’t light up.

We’re taking a peek behind big tobacco, smoke screen.

After the break.


In the early 1960s cigarettes were everywhere.

More than 40 percent of American adults, smoked that’s around 70 million.

People even cartoon characters like Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble enjoyed lighting up here.


They are in a TV commercial.


It’s about taking on that, let’s take the cigarette that delivers.

A flavored 20 times of pack.

This Heyday for cigarettes couldn’t last forever.


In 1962, President John F Kennedy commissioned a report on smoking due to mounting pressure from Health.

Organization’s a year and a half later on January 11th, 1964 US Surgeon.

General Luther Terry shared the findings in front of TV cameras out of its long and exhaustive deliberations.


The committee has reached the overall judgment that cigarettes Cooking is a health hazard of sufficient importance to the United States, to Warrant remedial action, the Surgeon General connected, smoking to several diseases, like lung cancer, emphysema, and coronary heart disease.


I would advise anyone to discontinue smoking cigarettes, but if he were to continue smoking cigarettes, he should do.

So in appreciation of the health hazard, I certainly would advise children not to start.


This was a brutal blow to cigarette makers, they stood to lose billions in profits hours.

After the announcement, CBS News interviewed Howard Coleman, a director at cigarette maker.

Philip Morris Coleman downplayed the surgeon general’s claims with a lit cigarette in his hand.


I don’t think the industry admits.

There are any bad elements.

If there are bad elements through our Laboratories to the surgeon general’s through the AMA.

Who acts of God luck.

We hope we may find them.

And if they are found, they will be removed.


But at this point, we do not know.


Who’s to say, who ate the last donut said, the guy with powdered sugar all over his face, in front of cameras, calman seemed, calm and collected, privately, though.


The surgeon general’s announcement left tobacco companies, relaying, they worried that people would quit cigarettes in record numbers.

They were looking for ways to make up for those expected losses.

In the middle of this Panic.

One cigarette brand showed some promise.


Cool, that’s cool with a K.

Cool was.

Well, positioned because their products had already been marketed as a healthier alternative to other cigarettes might filter.


I’m suddenly you’re refreshed like riding in air-conditioned Comfort who will snow Phresh filter makes the Menthol right Elder Coons case clean and fresh and Light.


These cigarettes were flavored with Menthol a cooling, chemical added to commercial.

Tobacco products, to give them a minty taste and make them feel less harsh.

But in reality, there weren’t any health benefits, actually.

The CDC now says, using menthols can make it harder to quit smoking these types of misconceptions could be why while other cigarette brands were struggling?


Cool, actually saw a bump in one group of users black smoker.

Hers, it wasn’t much just 5%, but it presented an opportunity.

Here’s Keith way.

Lou, a history professor at Princeton University, who’s written about the targeted marketing of menthols to the black community.


There is what one expert on a stick tour called the status seeking market and he pointed out that African-Americans in particular, were a fruitful outlet for status.

Ducks because of the existence of racial segregation, the existence cool makers, Brown & Williamson started targeting black smokers with ads that sold them on aspirational Lifestyles.


The Brown & Williamson company.

Led the way by the summer of 1964 with robust and concerted advertising in Black newspapers with fundamentally new motifs that were tailored to Black smokers.


One of the first cool ads in this new marketing campaign.

Showed a sharply dressed black man and woman, surrounded by trees, almost like they’ve stopped for a smoke break.

Mid hike, the ad reads, quote feel extra coolness in your throat.


These ads were very effective and as a result other Menthol makers wanted to attract black consumers to.

But after the surgeon general’s report things got harder for tobacco companies, Congress passed a law.

Requiring warning labels on cigarette packs.


And cigarette ads were banned entirely from TV and radio in response.

Tobacco companies came up with a bunch of tactics specifically targeting black smokers.

They were sneaky about it though.

Secretive, borderline deceptive when you hear it all, laid out, it all starts to sound a bit conspiratorial.


So let’s talk about it.

I’m going to mention a few different companies and Menthol Brands, but don’t worry too much about the names.

It’s all about the strategies.

These companies used to Market menthols to Black smokers.

Let’s start with one will call Community Inception.


Remember when good old Leo dekaps use dreams to plant ideas inside people’s heads.

That’s sort of what cigarette companies did planting preferences for menthols deep inside black communities, while keeping their own involvement hidden.

In a 1967.


Memo one, ad exec.

Working for RJ Reynolds, the makers of camels outlined plans to push their menthols in St.

Louis has black communities.

RJ Reynolds would deliver samples of their Camel, Menthol cigarettes to different groups of influencers in the black community throughout the day, morning hours for Barbara’s, just before the evening, rush for bartenders, right?


At the, beginning of a shift for cab drivers.

So what you do is you establish the notion that these are Grassroots consumer preferences that are emerging out of the community itself.

In addition to free packs of cigarettes, the people targeted would also be given what the memo refers to as boast material.


So, if your favorite bartender leaned in and said you ever cry a camel Menthol, you’d think he was speaking from experience, not from a pamphlet provided.

By the company itself.

Another strategy tobacco makers tried was courting the media and the 1960s big tobacco started paying off black media outlets for favorable press advertisers tended to overlook many of the black newspapers and magazines so they welcomed ad dollars from cigarette makers.


One, glaring instance of the tobacco industry’s influence was in 1965 when Jazz legend Nat King Cole died at the age of 45.

Lung cancer.

Ebony magazine, did a cover story on the lake crooner and his tragic early death.


They tell you everything about his life but they do not once see anything about his smoking.

The peace, never mentions that Cole reportedly smoked as many as three packs of cigarettes, a day.

And that same issue.

Ebony published four different menthol cigarette ads.


The tells you a lot about the way in which You willing accomplices within the black media structure, assisted the building of this advertising plan.

These types of Partnerships were happening in other Halls of power to namely Washington, d.c. the tobacco industry had been lining the pockets of politicians for years but now they positioned themselves as civil rights Advocates donating, two prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus and when the group of lawmakers would get together at black-tie fundraisers attendees were given free samples of cigarettes.


It wasn’t explicitly, a quid pro quo Arrangement but black politicians rarely spoke out against the tobacco industry and just when it looked like the industry, couldn’t lose one company over played its hand and got called out for it.


It was no way that I could ignore this plan.

So I said, if I have any Integrity personal or professional Integrity, I have to do this big tobacco meets its match.

Match after the break.

Welcome back.


Cool cats.

Those are both spelled with Case.

By the way, before the break, we heard about the strategies the tobacco industry used to Target black communities.

After a 1964 surgeon general’s report tobacco companies used these sneaky marketing strategies for nearly three decades without much pushback and certain neighborhoods looked different because of it.


Tobacco and alcohol were the two leading.

Campaigns in communities of color period.

That’s Reverend.

Jesse Brown in 1990, he was serving as the pastor of a church in North Philadelphia.


A neighborhood.

Plastered with aspirational, cigarette ads, featuring smiling, black models, Many prominent black figureheads weren’t calling big tobacco out for this kind of Highly targeted marketing.

Reverend Brown says, they weren’t the one seeing the real effects of smoking in the end.


They’re not the ones that come down into neighborhoods and communities are not the ones going to the cancer.

Wards are not the people who have to bury these folks and have funerals for these families.

They’re not the ones who have to help them deal with the losses.

Reverend Brown did see the negative health effects cigarettes were having on his community.


He was the president of a local organization, the committee to prevent cancer among blacks and it was an issue that extended far beyond Philly smoking rates in the black community stood, at five percent above the national, average cancer-related deaths were around 40 percent higher for black Americans than white Americans.


And many of those deaths were from lung cancer, At the start of 1990 Tobacco Company.


Reynolds plan to roll out a Philadelphia only marketing campaign for its new Menthol brand its slogan.


Uptown the place, the tastes early next month, r.j.

Reynolds is going to test Market a new menthol cigarette called Uptown.

What’s unusual about Uptown is that its advertising and marketing campaign is aimed at blacks and solely at blacks joining us now are dr.


Harold Apparently r.j.

Reynolds was so confident in its strategy of selling its product in black neighborhoods.

They started saying the quiet part out loud, RJ Reynolds was kind of bragging on the fact that the black community had been neglected by the tobacco industry and had not been explicitly charged me with their own cigarette, and that Uptown would be made for them.


The strategy went well beyond Billboards, r.j.

Reynolds plans for Uptown included, sending out employees, and vans to drive around to nightclubs screen, music videos.

And of course, hand out free Uptown cigarettes.


You know, the ol Inception strategy.

Reverend Brown says, the campaign felt like a direct insult, the cancer prevention work.

He was so invested in, with uptown’s official rollout, still a month away, Reverend Round got to work building a coalition.


Their goal was to stop Uptown from ever reaching the market.

I was part of a black ministerial group here in the city, so, the black clergy of Philadelphia a sanity, they became part of that opposition.

Word of Reverend Brown’s plan to create a PR nightmare for Uptown spread quickly.


Soon around 30 black and Latino Community organizations agreed to join him.

And by doing that, that also put a great deal of pressure on the local politicians in the city of Philadelphia to get on board.


Or at least be quiet or neutral to the idea news of this anti Uptown campaign reached Beyond Philadelphia and Reverend Browns organizing eventually caught the eye of the right person.

Good morning.

Good morning.


Can you hear me okay, I can hear you don’t yet?

See you but dr.

Louis Sullivan served as Health and Human Services secretary and the George h.w.

Bush Administration.

He was just the second black HHS secretary and the first to get the role under a Republican president, just as the anti Uptown efforts, were gaining steam.


Dr. Sullivan was flying back from an overseas trip for the White House during his flight.

He opened up a copy of the international Herald Tribune.

In that issue was a story about the community group in Philadelphia that had organized to protest.


The plans of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

The introduced a new cigarette in Philadelphia called Uptown the article quoted.

Reverend Brown who said that RJ Reynolds was quote, taking their own brand of death and trying to Market it to the black community addressing tobacco’s impact on black Americans had been a priority of dr.


Sullivan’s for several years and it just so happened.

That dr.

Sullivan was already scheduled to travel to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Just a few days later. it was the perfect time to speak out, but to get the Uptown criticism and to his planned speech, you would have to go Rogue and keep White House, staff members in the dark, there were those who had worked for the tobacco industry beforehand and might very well try and influence the president to have me removed my criticism of the tobacco industry that was in my Peach dr.


Sullivan kept the new comments.

A secret intentionally violating protocol then he told his staff not to share the copy with the white house until 8:30, a.m. on the morning of his remarks.

By the time they were aware of my speech, I would have finished the speech and I’d be on my way back to Washington dr.


Sullivan, you he could get fired for speaking out, but he was willing to face the consequences if I have any ability as a physician and as a public servant sworn to protect the health of Americans, this is something that I cannot be silent about When dr.


Sullivan arrived, at the University of Pennsylvania’s, School of Medicine.

He took the stage and didn’t hold back at a time when our people desperately need the message of health promotion Sounds message is more disease more suffering, more death.


I must condemn this without equivocation dr.

Sullivan’s criticism of Uptown helped tip the scales in favor of Reverend Brown and his Coalition.

The Reverend was incredibly thankful for Sullivan support his forthrightness on this issue, pushed it to a level that we sell.


Al’s didn’t have the power to do dr.

Sullivan was never punished for speaking out, despite his remarks making National headlines, privately President Bush, even supported his decision to criticize.

Uptown, the commented and said Lou, we understand what you’re doing and we’re behind you, maybe not as close, but I knew as you would like we would be behind you.


Turns out, dr.

Sullivan’s comments would be the knockout punch for Uptown menthols in a memo to employees.

An executive wrote that the backlash had made it quote impossible for us to read the test Market just over a month after it was first announced, r.j.


Reynolds officially cancelled their marketing campaign.

We have the hearts and minds and soul of our community as long as people know that what you’re doing is you’re fighting for their interests and their Health and their life.

And you’re fighting to reduce misery in their Community.


They will stand behind you.

Since Uptown government regulations, have cracked down on many of the marketing tactics.

The industry used to make smoking look fun in 2009.

President Barack Obama signed a bill that gave the Food and Drug Administration, the ability to regulate tobacco and banned the sale of flavored cigarettes today, thanks to the work of Democrats.


It’s and Republicans Healthcare and consumer Advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged Victorious.

But there was one exception to that flavored cigarette ban menthols, they were allowed to stay on the market.


Smoking rates have declined over all about two-thirds since the surgeon general’s report and only a slightly higher percentage of black people smoke than white people.

But thanks in part to Decades of targeted marketing, roughly 85 percent of black smokers, use menthols compared to just 30 percent of white smokers.


And in the spring of 2022 the FDA announced a proposed rule that would ban menthols once and for all A majority of Congressional Black Caucus members have come out in support, but big tobacco still has defenders in powerful positions leaders, including Reverend Al Sharpton, have argued that a ban would have its own drawbacks.


If people can’t buy their preferred menthols and stores, they might try to get them illegally, increasing the over-policing of black people, it’s hard to know all that a menthol ban would yield.

If you ask Advocates like Reverend Brown, they say what matters most is stopping the next generation of black smokers from taking up cigarettes, and while a band could be tremendously effective towards that goal.


It seems unlikely that it would be fatal to the industry as a whole We’ve seen how big tobacco has pivoted, even with major blows from the government.

No, regular cigarettes will sell month.

Al’s no menthols will sell Vapes, no Vapes.


I’m sure our D is already thinking of what could be next.

Just when it looks like the flame.

May have finally gone out, the tobacco industry is ready with another Rebrand, another product, another image to Aspire to another cool slogan.

Tempting you to Act against your best interest.


That’s cool with a CD, by the way.


Not past.

It is a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

This episode was produced by Ethan Oberman.

Next week, we’re bringing you the story of the saloon smashing queen of temperance carry a nation when she smashed up These Bars.


She’s you wouldn’t give me the vote.

So I had to use a rock, I would have used other options if I had them but I don’t The rest of our team, our producers remotely Philip and Olivia Briley.

Our associate producers are Lauren new command, Nick, Delle Rose, the supervising producer is Erica Morrison.


Our executive editor is Andrea be Scott editing by k.t., Feather fact-checking, by Ian.

Michael sound design and mixing by Hayley Shaw and Emma Monger.

Original music.

By Sachs kicks, Ave Willie, Green, Jay bless, and Bobby Lord.

Our theme song is touka Liana by cocoa with music supervision by Liz Fulton technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman.


The executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte the executive producer from gimlet as Matt schulze, special.

Thanks to dr.

Valerie joerger, dr.

Mark Mitchell dr.

Robert jackler Lauren Silverman, truth initiative, and Professor Keith way Lou, you can learn more about how the tobacco industry targeted black communities in his book, pushing cool, big tobacco, racial marketing, and the untold story of the menthol cigarette and to Lydia Pole Green Abbie ruzicka Dan A hard Jen hon, Emily wiedemann, Liz Styles, and Ariel.


Joseph follow not past it.

Now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify, click the little bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes and while you’re there hey why don’t you write as 5 Stars?

You can follow me on Twitter at Simone palana and thanks for hanging.


We’ll see you next week.

I was active in wearing a no-smoking button in the lapel of my coat to urge people.

Not to use tobacco.

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