In the Fall 2004 issue of Minority Nurse, we published a Second Opinion column written by Margaret A. Davis, MSN, RN, FNP, cancer committee chair for the Chicago Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association. Her article, “Fight KOOL Mixx,” urged nurses to take action against racially targeted marketing by the tobacco industry, such as the recent KOOL cigarettes promotional campaign that featured a hip-hop DJ competition and cigarette packs depicting images of hip-hop culture. In response, we received this letter from Sharvette Law Philmon, BSN, RN, a student in the health leadership master’s program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“Your Second Opinion article ‘Fight KOOL Mixx’ was wonderful,” she writes. “I am a health leadership student with a focus in health disparities. To overcome health disparities in this country, public health professionals must understand the root causes of the problems, and the article does an excellent job of describing some of these root causes. For example, it starts off by saying: ‘The tobacco industry has a long-standing, parasitic relationship with African Americans.’
“Next, the author vividly explained what would happen if no one assumed responsibility for this specific marketing strategy,” Philmon continues. “Allowing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. [which merged with KOOL manufacturer Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. in July 2004] to target African Americans is basically saying, ‘Let’s increase health disparities in African Americans.’ We know the complications of long-term cigarette smoking and how the human body responds to nicotine.
“Finally, Operation Storefront [the intervention campaign Davis helped organize in Chicago that succeeded in halting the KOOL Mixx promotion in Illinois] is an excellent model for community organizations to get their local constituencies involved in this serious matter. I applaud anyone who took part in the lawsuits filed against Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. [in Illinois, New York and Maryland] in the summer of 2004. In addition, I challenge all health care professional to formulate a strategy that will ameliorate this public health problem.”