African-American Community Groups Strengthen Tobacco and Alcohol-Control Efforts

The National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery worked to strengthen the capacity of African-American community organizations to address alcohol and tobacco control.

Key Results

During the grant period, the association did not expand its institutional or fiscal capacity. However, it accomplished the following:

  • Awarded five organizations $10,000 apiece to support specific projects in alcohol and tobacco control. Four of these organizations completed projects during the planned six-month timeframe (from October 2001 to March 2001).
  • Organized three national public awareness campaigns:
    • The association's efforts were instrumental in ending the advertising and marketing campaign for the mentholated cigar, Swisher Sweets Little Cigars in Menthol, targeted at the African-American community.
    • The association's Fact Sheet, Menthol in Cigarettes, part of its 1999 Marlboro Mild campaign and lawsuit against tobacco companies marketing menthol cigarettes to the African-American community, raised awareness about menthol as an ingredient in cigarettes and the health implications in the African-American community, and impacted tobacco marketing campaigns.
    • In conjunction with other organizations, the association also campaigned against NBC's decision to air hard liquor ads beginning in December 2001; NBC stopped the ads.
  • Created communications materials to inform African Americans about the hazards of secondhand smoke and expanded its website offerings.
  • The association's Executive Director, Rev. Jesse Brown, was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against tobacco companies for marketing menthol cigarettes to African Americans.


The project was part of an effort by RWJF to help minority organizations strengthen their efforts to combat alcohol and tobacco use in their communities.

In April 2002, RWJF's board authorized Voices in the Debate: Minority Action for Tobacco Policy Change, to centralize its efforts to strengthen tobacco control policy efforts by national ethnic organizations.