February 1995, news broke that several gas stations in Boston
were selling a new brand of menthol cigarettes that specifically
targeted African American teenagers. A national coalition, led
by Boston's African American community including Reverend Jesse
Brown with the National Association of African Americans
for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI) and Reverend Hessie L. Harris
with Churches Organized to Stop Tobacco (COST) immediately reacted.
In less than a month, X Cigarettes were pulled from the shelves.
cigarette pack was clearly directed towards African Americans:
the "X" on the package brought Malcolm X to mind,
and the colors of the package were red, black, and green, Africa's
liberation colors. X cigarettes were also relatively cheap at
$1.04 a pack, which would appeal to teenagers. Coalition leaders
were outraged that tobacco manufacturers were willing to exploit
the name of such an important leader in the African American
community. However, it had been done before. A few years earlier
in South Africa, "Mandela" cigarettes were being marketed
towards young South Africans, in the name of "freedom".