Sunday, June 28, 2009

Extinguishing Tobacco Use in African American Communities

Extinguishing Tobacco Use in African American Communities

Series examines African Americans relationship with tobacco

OAKLAND, CA (PRWEB) February 22, 2004

Without the free labor of black men, women, and children who were enslaved to the plantations of the nationÂ’s tobacco crops of the early 1800s, the Virginia colony and plantation owners themselves, would not have enjoyed financial freedom and success, according to the African American Tobacco Education Network (AATEN). And yet, with more than 200 years after slavery, African AmericanÂ’s and the tobacco industry maintain a unique relationship today whereby African Americans use tobacco and where more than 75 percent of African American smokers prefer menthol cigarettes, which allow them to inhale the harmful chemicals more deeply and retain them in their lungs for a longer period of time. Moreover, the tobacco industry has been highly influential in the African American community for decades, despite the fact that African Americans bear the greatest burden from tobacco-related diseases.

“I don’t know the statistics for African American smokers in Oakland and the surrounding areas, “said Nadine Scott, a community leader and executive director of Ariel Outreach Mission selected by AATEN to help educate Oakland residents about the enormous hazards of first and second-hand smoke, “however, what we do know is that African Americans in this community continue to be plagued by and succumbed to smoke related illnesses, Scott said. “While we may not be able to immediately control print and billboard advertisements targeted to our communities, we can help control how we react to them, “she added.

In its continuous mission to engage African Americans and African Immigrants in campaigns that reduce the use of tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke, the AATEN has developed a series of educational articles this in honor of Black History Month. The articles will discuss tobacco and its impact on African Americans through the generations.

This series will appear each week during the month of February to look at the relationship between tobacco and African Americans and describe how the tobacco industry targets African Americans with advertising, promotion and sponsorship. AATEN hopes to counter these tactics by increasing awareness of the issues and the disproportionately adverse health consequences of tobacco use in the African American community.

The four-article series will supply historical information on tobacco and slavery, discuss the effects of tobacco use on African Americans, expose how the tobacco industry tries to exert influence in the African American community today and suggest what you can do to counter "Big Tobacco" in your community.

The African American Tobacco Education Network is a statewide project funded through the Tobacco Control Section of the State Department of Health Services. Administered by the California Black Health Network, AATEN conducts workshops, seminars and conferences on tobacco control and offers information on the effect of tobacco use on African Americans.