Voices in the Debate: Minority Action for Tobacco Policy Change

Field of Work: Minority involvement in changing tobacco policy.

Problem Synopsis: More than 10 million African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Hispanics smoked cigarettes in 1995, according to a 1998 Surgeon General's report. Without intervention, the number was expected to grow, increasing the likelihood of more tobacco-related deaths among minorities. Public health and smoking prevention groups had raised concerns about the tobacco industry's practice of targeting cultural and ethnic minorities through product development, packaging, pricing, advertising and promotional activities.

Synopsis of the Work: From 2001 to January 2009, three organizations (the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention) worked to strengthen and expand their roles in advocating for tobacco prevention and control at the national, state and local levels within communities of color. Their efforts focused chiefly on training leaders, building capacity, networking with relevant organizations and engaging in advocacy and policy development.

Key Results:

  • The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations:
    • Convened the Alliance on Advancing Parity and Leadership for Priority Populations as an organization that seeks equal participation of minority communities in tobacco-control activities and policy-making. The Parity Alliance produced a parity toolkit, Moving Toward Health: Achieving Parity through Tobacco Control for All Communities.
    • Released a report, A Policy Framework for Preventing and Reducing Tobacco Use in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community.
    • Created the Social Justice and Tobacco Control Grant initiative to help community organizations promote tobacco-related policy changes.
    • Maintained and enhanced a series of leadership and advocacy training programs for minority youth and adults interested in advocating for tobacco prevention and control.
    • Published journal articles.
  • The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network:
    • Made 40 to 50 presentations to advocate for tobacco prevention and control in African-American communities and conducted some 25 trainings in areas such as grant writing, working with ethnic media and building youth coalitions.
    • Developed its flagship training program, "Follow the Signs," designed to help participants understand tobacco industry marketing practices in minority communities.
    • Published a journal article.
    • Acted as an intervenor and advisor in a federal lawsuit (United States of America v. Phillip Morris, Inc. et al.) that ruled that the major tobacco companies had engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The ruling was upheld on appeal.
    • Redesigned its website to include interactive capabilities and consistent branding. The site provides information about the organization, news and events listings related to antismoking advocacy, links to other resources and a newsletter.
  • The National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention:
    • Developed an annual conference series—the National Hispanic/Latino Conferences on Tobacco Prevention and Control—with the goal of increasing the number of Latinos working on tobacco policy. Conferences were held in 2002 through 2005.
    • Produced educational products, including a DVD, "Tobacco 101: Smoking Is a Family Matter", fact sheets, newsletters and a website that facilitates public access to information about tobacco policy, prevention and control in the Latino community.