THE PROBLEM:

Racial minorities are at elevated risk for poor cancer-related outcomes due to the combined influences of behavior (e.g., smoking), discrimination, poor healthcare access, and other institutional-level factors. Add to this that the tobacco industry disproportionately targets African-American youth and adults with advertising of highly addictive brands of menthol cigarettes, resulting in increased dependency and lower cessation rates.

THE RESEARCH:

Phoenix Matthews

Phoenix Matthews, PhD, developed culturally competent outreach methods that have improved the recruitment of minorities into smoking-cessation treatment trials, and she developed culturally tailored treatments for African-American smokers (as well as tailored programs for LGBT and HIV-positive smokers). After a successful collaboration with the Chicago Department of Public Health, Matthews’ expertise on smoking among African Americans contributed to a 2013 Chicago City Council ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products—including menthol products— within 500 feet of schools. Before this, no jurisdiction at any level had ever included menthol as a flavor in the myriad laws that regulate flavored tobacco.