On March 1 The New York Times published an article, “For Many Asian New Yorkers, Smoking is Still a Way of Life.” Over the past several years, the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc., Queens Branch, has been educating the Asian community on the hazards of smoking and the health risks of secondhand smoke.
According to the Mayor’s Office, the smoking rate among Asians has decreased from 15 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2010. In New York State, the tobacco industry spends approximately $1.1 million per day to market its products. To improve the health outcomes of the community, CPC works closely with local elected officials and community groups to combat the influence of the tobacco industry and change the cultural norms of smoking.
According to a survey conducted by the American Cancer Society, 34 retailers are licensed to sell tobacco products in Flushing, and 97 percent of these stores feature tobacco product displays behind the cash register. Studies have shown that such exposure to cigarette advertising influences nonsmoking adolescents to initiate smoking. More than 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 18.
The closer tobacco retailers are to schools, the more likely children are to smoke. Our children are influenced by tobacco ads on a daily basis as they are walking to school, home or shopping in the neighborhood. The tobacco industry is investing billions of dollars to cultivate a future market among the youth.
Restoring New York State funding for community-based tobacco control efforts, such as educational workshops and meetings with community leaders, is a worthwhile effort, particularly as the state receives $2 billion per year in tobacco-related revenue and spends billions on tobacco-related diseases. The state should do more to improve health outcomes and bring more awareness to the Asian community about the benefits of living a smoke-free life.