Dana Carroll is a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Minnesota. She studies commercial tobacco use and its health outcomes.
“There’s evidence that the tobacco industry has specifically targeted this population … by using Native Americans on cigarette packs,” Carroll said.
“There’s a well-known one, American Spirits, [which] portrays an [American] Indian chief using traditional tobacco. And you can imagine it blurs the line, especially for youth: Is that commercial tobacco? Is that really bad or is that OK?”
Experts say American Indians have been the target of aggressive marketing by cigarette manufacturers since at least the 20th century. In 2020, Carroll and a team of researchers analyzed data on American Indians’ self-reported exposure to tobacco ads from stores, tobacco package displays, direct mail, and email marketing.
They found that exposure to retail and email ads for tobacco products was higher among Americans Indians and Alaska Natives than their white American counterparts.
“Email really goes behind the eyes of the public to the individual,” Carroll said. “So it circumvents Tribal leadership…