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.

The marketing strategy is referred to, in the study, as “predatory,” The authors also say that the advertising is  “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. The evidence is not consistent with those claims,” said Lisa Henriksen, the lead author of the study.

To conduct the study, researchers randomly selected convenience stores within walking distance of 91 different schools.  They then studied how cigarettes were marketed in those stores.  They found that for every 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of black students in the school, the amount of marketing advertising grew by 5.9 percent.

Additionally, they found that the price for a pack of the leading brand of menthol cigarette (Newports), fell by 12 cents for every 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of black students at the school.  A non-menthol brand, Marlboro, was found to have no correlation with racial demographics.

When it came to price, the average per-pack price for Newport was $4.37 at the time of the study, with Marlboro – the leading non-menthol brand – averaging $3.99. It also found that for every 10-percentage-point increase in the proportion of African-American students at the nearby school, the per-pack price for Newport was 12 cents lower. Advertised discounts and prices for Marlboro, however, were unrelated to school or neighborhood demographics.

Gumbumpers, how crazy is this??