These data visuals show how Big Tobacco is impacting low-income communities - Generocity Philly

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Sep. 30, 2016 7:55 am

These data visuals show how Big Tobacco is impacting low-income communities

Joe Camel has been known to set his sights on the impoverished. This Smoke Free Philly data story shows how that's happening in Philadelphia.

Tobacco salad.

(Photo by Flickr user John Cappiello, used under a Creative Commons license)

Back in January of 1990, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was gearing up to test its flashy new brand of cigarettes in Philadelphia. Dubbed Uptown, the cigarettes would be marketed toward Black consumers — including young Black high schoolers.

The market test came to a halt when a coalition of organizations including the city’s Health Department and the Black clergy rallied around a resistance effort. It seemed like a big win at the time.

Despite efforts to reduce Big Tobacco’s influence (cigarette taxes being one), the industry has still managed to exploit low-income Philadelphians. A new data story from advocacy nonprofit Smoke Free Philly shows exactly how the tobacco industry has impacted the impoverished in Philadelphia, home to the highest rate of adult smoking among the top 10 U.S. cities.

According to the data story, titled By Deadly Design, 48 percent of all tobacco retailers in the city are located in low-income neighborhoods, with the remaining 52 percent located in mixed- and high-income neighborhoods.

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That means low-income Philadelphians — the vast majority of which are people of color — are much more likely to live within close proximity to tobacco retailers, be exposed to tobacco ads and develop health conditions related to smoking.

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