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Tobacco Prevention Annual Empowerment Evaluation Report 2020

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“Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). “Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. ”

This is our annual report on the work of the Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office (MISRGO) at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, and 10 grantees across the State.

This report highlights the role of tobacco consumption, vaping, and COVID-19 in minority communities.

Background Highlights:

Tobacco: Tobacco use is a major contributor to death among African Americans, specifically in the areas of heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Vaping: As reported in Scientific American, 2020: “Although current attention is focused on e-cigarette use, renewed efforts must be placed on eliminating menthol flavoring in all nicotine-containing products including e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco. Menthol regulation is not only a tobacco prevention and control issue but a social justice imperative. Adolescents who use nicotine-containing products prefer menthol flavorings, but there are enormous differences in preferences for menthol among youth of color. Menthol products are preferred by youth from communities who are disproportionately impacted by health inequalities.”

COVID-19: Based on available data to-date, Black Americans are experiencing disproportionately high rates of Covid-19 infections and death. African Americans account for 34% of total Covid-19 deaths in states reporting racial/ethnic information. However, they are only 13% of the population in those states.

The pandemic amplifies existing racial disparities, including socio-economic status, living conditions, and access to care in the U.S. Ethnic minorities have a disproportionately higher rate of chronic medical conditions than whites. These pre-existing conditions compound the risk of serious complications of the novel coronavirus – resulting in higher death rates. Tobacco consumption and exposure to second hand smoke rates are higher among minority populations and contribute to chronic medical conditions, making African Americans and other minorities more vulnerable in a Covid-19 context.

The focus of the report, however, presents MISRGO and the grantees' progress in achieving their annual goals. In addition, the report discusses the role of evaluation technical assistance, such as workshops, dialogue facilitation, tobacco prevention resources, evaluation dashboards, and dissemination. The accomplishments reported are commendable, particularly given the COVID-19 global pandemic context.

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