Paid protesters, free lunches and backroom chats: Inside the menthol lobbying machine
Menthol cigarettes are the choice of 85% of Black smokers, the result of decades of targeted marketing in Black communities.
Cities across the US have banned the sale of menthol-flavoured cigarettes. As the US Food and Drug Administration considers a nationwide ban, the owner of the country’s most popular menthol brand has waged a huge lobbying and public relations campaign to keep them in the hands of smokers.
This investigation reveals how consultants working for Reynolds American have exploited concerns about police brutality against Black citizens and at times failed to declare their links to the industry. Protesters were paid $80 each to attend a rally organized by a group with close ties to the company.