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!

New Report: Putting Prevention to Work in New York City

CSS White Paper Cover ImageThe NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City was honored to be a part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Grant (CPPW), a federally funded initiative to combat obesity and tobacco use that spanned fifty communities across the United States where over fifty million people live.

As part of this grant, the Coalition provided funding at both the borough and citywide level to non-profit organizations that committed to increasing awareness in their communities of the harmful effects of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, as well as how tobacco marketing in stores at the point-of-sale perpetuates the epidemic of tobacco-related disease.

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SILENCE=DEATH

lgbtIn 1995, Big Tobacco targeted gays in a marketing campaign titled Project SCUM. Ironically, as the LGBT community was heralding a major victory in the battle against AIDS, putting them in the spotlight, the tobacco industry saw them as a viable market to exploit, especially LGBT youth.

A recent article released in the American Journal of Public Health found that LGBT people smoke cigarettes at rates that are nearly 70 percent higher than the general population. It is estimated that LGBT adults are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke than heterosexual adults.

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The LGBT Smoke-Free Project

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the LGBT community continues to smoke more than the U.S. general population. The results showed 32.8 percent of LGBT people nationally smoke cigarettes, compared to 19.5 percent for the general population.

“Unfortunately, these findings confirm the bad news that LGBT people smoke cigarettes at rates 68 percent higher than the general population and that our overall tobacco use is 50 percent higher,” comments Dr. Scout, director of The Network for LGBT Health Equity.

Scout added: “It’s clearer than ever that tobacco use is one of the largest single health burdens on the LGBT community.”

Here in New York City, the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City has worked with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center (the Center) for the past three years to raise awareness around secondhand smoke and tobacco marketing targeting youth.  Since the early 90s, the Center has been a true champion working to encourage adult smokers to quit through their LGBT SmokeFree Project.  The Coalition has partnered with the Center to raise awareness not only around the health implications of smoking, but how youth, particularly, LGBT youth, are targeted by tobacco companies to be their next generation of “replacement smokers.”

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