Background: African Americans are disproportionately affected by flavored tobacco products. Current research suggests that African American adults have higher menthol cigarette use than other racial groups and are more likely to die from tobacco related diseases.
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to assess community knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions regarding tobacco and health as well as the level of support for citywide policies that ban or restrict the sales of flavored tobacco, the distribution of free or low cost tobacco, coupons among the African American and non-African American communities in the Tri-County South region of California.
Method: Data were collected using a public intercept survey distributed at events selected for their historically high African American attendance. The survey included questions assessing knowledge, attitudes, personal smoking behavior, and levels of support for policies to ban or restrict flavored tobacco products and tobacco coupon redemption. Data analysis was conducted using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests of independence.
Results: A convenience sample of 431 participants completed the survey. Results showed differences by race and income in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to smoking and health among the residents in the Tri-County South region of California. Results also showed that while African Americans were more likely to be current smokers, they were also more supportive of policies that ban or restrict the sales of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that efforts to regulate flavored tobacco use may reduce tobacco consumption and tobacco related morbidity and mortality among the African American population, particularly when interventions are tailored to specific income groups.
Public Health Implications: The relatively high levels of knowledge of the health risks posed by menthol products, as well as broad support for policy interventions targeting menthol products, together suggest that future advocacy efforts should focus on community-based mobilization to lobby for policy change related to menthol regulation.