Spending the Summer Tackling the Tobacco Epidemic

ImageWith tobacco use still the number one cause of preventable death here in New York City and nationwide, smoke-free public health organizations are always looking for college and graduate school interns for a range of projects.  The Coalition is pleased to welcome Zoe Sakas, who will contribute to our blog over the summer and help with communications, research, and youth-focused initiatives.  Read on for more about Zoe and the work she is doing in her own words:

“I am a born-and-raised New Yorker, who grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  After finishing my freshman year of college at Fordham University in the Bronx, I am excited to start my summer internship at the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.

As a pre-med student, I am passionate about public health, and interested in combining research with action and initiatives that create tangible results and a healthier world.  I have always wanted to make a difference, and protecting the health of others is the perfect way to do that.  As summer approached, I wanted to find an organization to work for that promoted the importance of healthy living in New York City and represented the progression of healthy living nationwide.

Truthfully, I never had pictured New York City as “smoke-free.” There are many people in my life who smoke, and it is something I’ve experienced every day whether through a fellow pedestrian blowing smoke in my face or a flashy advertisement catching my eye.  Already, after working at the Coalition for just a few days and learning how much has already been accomplished, I now see a smoke-free city as a serious possibility, and one that I am eager to help accomplish. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, and regardless of the resources already out there, an active effort is still needed to end the tobacco epidemic. 

For my first assignment, I discovered that people who identify as LGBT smoke at rates 70 percent higher than the general population, and in New York City, 80 percent of all adult smokers began smoking before the age of 21. Tobacco marketing specifically targets the LGBT community and young people, taking advantage of the stress that comes with finding yourself and wanting to fit in. This summer, I am looking forward to learning more about public health and tobacco control as it relates to the LGBT community and  New York City youth, with the ultimate goal of raising awareness and creating an environment that does not promote the deadly health consequences of tobacco.”

Please join us in welcoming Zoe to the Coalition and be sure to check back for more of her work later this summer!