Corporate Accountability

From the tobacco industry to agribusiness and fast food companies, corporations and their business practices have a tremendous impact on the health and wellbeing of AA and NH/PI communities and other priority populations. Recognizing this impact and its consequences, APPEAL has made Corporate Accountability one of the four prongs in its Policy Change Model, and is committed to assisting communities in alleviating the burdens caused by unethical practices.

Big Tobacco

Tobacco corporations and their business and marketing practices have significant social justice implications for many diverse communities. For example, studies have shown that Asian businesses are significantly more likely to have tobacco advertising outside their stores, and ads located in these stores and in other ethnic minority neighborhoods are less likely to have health warnings than those ads found in primarily white neighborhoods.1 As a result of these and other targeted marketing schemes, smoking in the Asian American community – particularly among women – has been increasing dramatically.2

The health disparities caused by Big Tobacco among AA and NH/PI communities has led APPEAL to develop a set of Policy Framework Recommendations on Countering the Tobacco Industry.3 These recommendations are as follows:

  • Fund comprehensive, culturally-tailored media campaigns to counter the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing in key AA & PI communities
  • Determine the extent and impact of tobacco advertising and promotion in AA& PI communities and evaluate the effectiveness of AAPI media campaigns
  • Condemn the tobacco industry for its targeted marketing of AA & PIs, other diverse communities and
  • Eliminate all forms of tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion
  • Provide partial or complete replacement funding and assistance for AA & PI organizations that have previously relied on tobacco industry monies.

Several corporate accountability campaigns which APPEAL has been a part of and/or supported include:

  • The Virginia Slims Campaign: In 1999, the Philip Morris tobacco corporation launched a $40 million campaign focused on reaching Asian American women and other women of color. As part of this campaign, the company began running ads in magazines targeting these specific communities. These ads, which included images of a geisha and other ethnic minority women smoking Virginia Slims, ran in publications such as People, Latina, Essence, Vibe and many other national magazines. In response to these campaigns, AA and NH/PI community organizations, health coalitions, activists and community leaders, sent letters protesting the targeting of these populations, and urged magazines featuring these ads to have them removed.
  • The Kaua’i Kolada Campaign: In 2005, Camel cigarettes, a product of the RJ Reynolds tobacco corporation, began a campaign marketing its new pineapple and coconut flavored cigarettes called, “Kaua’i Kolada.” Packaging of this product included a Native Hawaiian hula dancer smoking atop two boxes of Camel cigarettes. Native Hawaiian leaders and tobacco control advocates such as Papa Ola Lokahi and Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawai’i immediately launched a statewide movement demanding that RJ Reynolds discontinue the offensive ad campaign, specifically highlighting the negative impact tobacco use has had on the Native Hawaiian community, as well as the blatant disregard the campaign obviously had for Hawaiian values and culture. As a result of these efforts, Kaua’i Kolada was pulled from shelves in Hawai’i.4

1 Joseph, A.M., R. Lew, M.E. Muggli, and R.W. Pollay, “Targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by the tobacco industry results from the Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository,” Tobacco Control 11 (2000): 201.

2 APPEAL, “Asian American and Pacific Islander Groups Decry Targeting of Women by the Tobacco Industry,” media release, 1999.

3 APPEAL, “APPEAL Policy Change Model: Policy Framework for Preventing and Reducing Tobacco use in the AAPI Community,”

4 Spoehr, Hardy and Deborah Zysman, “Advocates Speak Out Against Kaua’i Kolada Campaign,” A Global APPEAL, Fall 2005, Volume 6, Number 1, Advocacy section.