Who’s Not Here? – Who should we ensure sits at the tobacco public health table?

By Emilia Dunham

Program Associate, Reporting from the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act: Regulatory Science and the Tobacco Industry at Harvard School of Public Health

Dr. Phillip Gardinier of Nicotine Dependence & Policy Research at the University of California presented on the “FDA Involvement of Stakeholders in the Regulatory Process: Still Time to Remedy the Situation.”

He spoke about the communities that are left out of the tobacco control movement, policies, research and debate on tobacco control, and the need to reach out to those left out. We of course know that those left out are low-SES people, communities of color and us (the LGBT communities) which we applaud Dr. Gardinier for clearly pointing out.

For example since NAATPN and communities of color weren’t included in policy discussions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, menthol was not restricted in that Act.

The question here is if all stakeholders are equal? And the answer is no since tobacco representatives are invited to the table more than disparity groups despite their history of lies and deceit and violation of laws.

So what needs to be done?

We need an Office of Health Disparities – To ensure voices are always heard and better position against tobacco industry and coordinate with the Office of Minority Health. CTP is to be applauded for reaching out to the most affected groups. Most importantly, communities experiences tobacco disparities and traditionally left out of the conversation, should be included. If the tobacco industry is brought up, but not minority groups, they win as they are still selling their products to minority groups.

As a result of this presentation, it’s ever more clear that we’re fortunate to be here as the LGBT Network and happy to represent our communities and report this important information and collaborations to all of you.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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