“Project SCUM.” That was the name of R.J. Reynolds’s plan to market cigarettes to gays and homeless people in San Francisco,
according to documents released as part of a 1998 legal
settlement. The “Subculture Urban Marketing” plan was
to lure young men to Red Kamel cigarettes with logo-emblazoned beach towels and flashy product displays in
the Castro district’s head shops. To reach homeless people
in the Tenderloin district, the company reduced prices on
its Doral brand and brought counter displays to bodegas.
Though R.J. Reynolds stood out for its apparent
contempt for its customers, the company wasn’t alone
in targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
community, low-income people and many other
marginalized groups, said Katherine Pruitt, of the
American Lung Association, at APA’s Strengthening
Psychology’s Role in Reducing Tobacco Health
Disparities meeting, Dec. 11–12 in Washington, D.C.
“The tobacco industry has very astute marketers,” Pruitt
said. “We, too, need deep reach into priority communities
so that we can move the needle on health disparities.”
The APA conference brought together “an all-star cast
of speakers from the government, academe, nonprofits
and community groups to discuss the best practices for
reducing disparities and helping chart an agenda for
APA,” said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD.