Break The Cycle, We Have the Power Philly!

What is Break The Cycle?

Break The Cycle is a groundbreaking campaign from the Department of Public Health calling out the Tobacco Industry’s predatory use of menthol and flavored tobacco to profile African-American children, adults, and neighborhoods to create a cycle of smoking.

The Problem:

  • Philadelphia has one of the highest adult smoking rates among large US cities. Smoking rates are especially high for low-income and African-American Philadelphians.
  • Almost 90% of all smokers start before the age of 18. Almost 1 in 3 of Philadelphia’s youth used some form of tobacco or vaping device in 2015.
  • More Philadelphia youth are vaping and using cigars / cigarillos more than cigarettes.

Flavored cigarillos are appealing because they are extremely cheap. For about $10, a Philadelphia youth can buy:



Cheap cigarillos are often packaged and sold in kid-friendly flavors like mint chocolate chip, strawberry, and chocolate. Fruit and/or menthol cigarillos are often displayed next to candy and other snacks.

The same chemicals are used to flavor both of these products.



Why menthol and candy flavored tobacco?

  • Youth are much more likely to use tobacco that is flavored. Many kids think flavored tobacco products are safer.
  • Kids who start smoking menthol are 2X as likely to become daily smokers.
  • Cigarette use is going down in Philadelphia while the use of flavored tobacco is increasing, especially among African-American teens and pre-teens.
  • Menthol and candy flavors mask the harsh taste of tobacco, entice youth to start smoking, and make it harder to quit.

Big Tobacco’s menthol cigarette advertisements have exploited cultural traditions in African-American communities, including Black History Month, the Black Power movement, and hip-hop culture.



September 1972 memo to Brown & Williamson from Marketing Innovations, “Youth Cigarette – New Concepts.” Bates No. 170042014

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