Monday, January 19th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a day to remember his dream of equality as well as the work that’s been done to make that dream a reality. Efforts are still needed in Wisconsin to fulfill Dr. King’s dream, particularly around the issue of health inequities such as tobacco use.
Last month, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced a record low smoking rate for the state of 18%. Those numbers don’t translate to the state’s African American community where 27% still smoke, with the numbers rising even higher for individuals with a low income (35%) or less than a high school degree (33%).
It’s no coincidence that these populations smoke at higher rates than the state average. African American communities in Milwaukee and elsewhere are bombarded with tobacco advertising. Conducting environmental scans, which are assessments of retail establishments to collect information about advertising and product availability present, confirmed what many in the community already know. Tobacco companies target low-income African American neighborhoods.
The Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN) is working to decrease tobacco use disparities in our community by connecting adults with quit smoking resources and involving youth and adults in local tobacco prevention and control activities including conducting environmental scans. To learn more about our efforts, contact ADD.