More Action Needed To Encourage Blacks To Quit Smoking, Opinion Piece Says
"There is nothing more destructive than tobacco smoking in the African-American community," Bill Releford -- a Los Angeles surgeon and founder of the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, which aims to raise health awareness among blacks -- writes in a Torrance Daily Breeze opinion piece. "Roughly 100,000 African-Americans will suffer a stroke this year, and a great deal of these are attributed to smoking," he adds.
According to Releford, "The marketing of tobacco products to African-Americans, compounded with the lack of knowledge and resources to quit smoking, has placed the community in a cycle of addiction." The effects of menthol-flavored cigarettes, in particular, "are devastating" the black community, he writes, adding, "The tobacco industry has historically placed these products in the communities where they are deceptively marketed as cool and less dangerous." He says, "Mentholated cigarettes have escaped legislation banning other forms of flavored cigarettes, and remain widely available."
He continues, "Simply working together to address the issue of smoking in the African-American community is not enough" to encourage the group to stop smoking. "It is time to step up to the plate and pro-actively get on board by supporting smokers, to the fullest extent possible, in quitting," Releford writes. According to Releford, "Stricter licensing and higher taxes may limit the access for smokers instead of surrounding them with temptations," and "[o]ffering a full variety of cessation services -- including counseling, medications and relapse-prevention services -- is also critically necessary" to address the problem. "An investment in the health of our citizens is an investment in the long-term human infrastructure of our country," he says (Releford, Torrance Daily Breeze, 2/4).