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Speak Up! Talk About It, Be About It!

Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by tobacco use and die at higher rates than other groups from tobacco-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.


What About It?

Big Tobacco” has a long standing history of targeting Black Americans in their marketing practices, especially youth, with marketing for menthol cigarettes and other tobacco products like flavored cigars. We continue to see this today with brands such as Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu and Logic.

While these are not your mother’s cigarettes, they still contain tobacco and harmful chemicals, and have a devastating impact on Black health and lives.

The Evolution of Cigarette Ads
Women’s Liberation
Women’s Liberation

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Flavored e-Cigs
Flavored e-Cigs

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Women’s Liberation
Women’s Liberation

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Sources: The New York Times Magazine, Ghost of the Doll, Forbes

Why Talk About It?

In particular, Big Tobacco has aggressively marketed menthol products to young people and

African Americans, especially in urban communities.


We need to amplify our voices and bring greater attention and awareness to how this impacts our community. 

Why Be About It?
  • Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans, claiming 45,000 Black lives each year. 

  • It is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans—heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the Black community.

  • And now, there is growing evidence that smoking and other tobacco use can increase risk  for Covid-19, which has disproportionately impacted Black Americans. 

We know that Black Lives Matter in many ways, and now it’s time for us to

come together to protect the health and well-being of ourselves and our community.


With the SPEAK Project you can be part of a movement to advocate for

change on your campus, in your community, and our country to

Take Action. Get Involved. & Save Black Lives!

What You Can Do?

Join The Smoking Prevention through Equity, Advocacy and Knowledge (SPEAK) Project, an anti-tobacco initiative funded by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


The goal of the SPEAK Project is to advance equity for the Black community by speaking the truth about tobacco use and e-cigarettes in order to prevent and reduce tobacco use among young Black women and girls.

The SPEAK Project works specifically with young HBCU women to enable them to become more proactive and empowered to take charge of their health and well-being, motivate them to refrain from and/or

stop tobacco and vaping use. 

There are two ways to get involved:


SPEAK Up Ambassadors commit to serve one academic year commitment to learn about tobacco use

and health disparities, recruit peers on campus to co-design and activate a campaign to reduce tobacco

use at your respective institution. We are looking for young women who are passionate about making

a positive difference on their campus, digitally savvy, and know what it takes to bring people together to

support a common cause.

SPEAK Up Squad Members commit to serve at least one academic year to help execute the tobacco use and health disparities campaign, which entails attending regular meetings, assisting their campus

SPEAK Up Ambassador in planning on campus events, and using their network to spread the word

about the SPEAK project. We are looking for young women who are active on campus,

enjoy collaborative work, and know how to turn a plan into action.

The SPEAK Up! Campaign is the SAGSAW communications effort that aims to raise awareness among HBCU students of tobacco inequities and the harms associated with tobacco use, whether vaping, cigarillos, etc. The SPEAK Up! Campaign supports our efforts to conduct outreach, education, and advocacy activities on their campuses and to broaden engagement of African Americans in tobacco control and prevention.