APPEAL Press release: “No Community Left Behind” California’s Priority Populations Launch a New Tobacco Control Initiative

Please check out this press release by our national network partner: Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL).


Contact: Rod Lew
Executive Director for APPEAL
(510) 318-7814


Carol McGruder
Co-Chair, AATCLC
(510) 508-7264

“No Community Left Behind”
California’s Priority Populations Launch a New Tobacco Control Initiative  

Long Beach, CA –
Tobacco control professionals from across the state will gather for the official launch of the newly formed ADEPT (Advocacy and Data dissemination to achieve Equity for Priority populations on Tobacco) Project on August 3, 2011 in Long Beach, California. California’s recent smoking prevalence data reports that adult smoking rates are at an all time low of 11.9%, second only to Utah. However, with smoking prevalence for African American males at over 18% and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) young adults at 43%, there are many other California populations that have not shared in the gains reaped from the passage of Proposition 99. Approved by California voters in 1988, Proposition 99 added a 25-cents tax to every package of cigarettes sold in the state of California of which 5-cents was used to fund California’s comprehensive tobacco control movement.

“It has been over 20 years since Prop 99 passed, and the diminishing reach and power of that 5-cents has meant a drastic reduction in programs and services that benefit our communities,” stated Carol McGruder, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.

Initially, California focused on the communities and groups that had the highest smoking prevalence rates. But due to inflation, an ever shrinking funding base and shifting priorities within the California Department of Public Health, over the years that focus has diminished and California’s priority populations continue to suffer disproportionately. With dramatically higher smoking prevalence rates, fewer workplace protections from secondhand smoke and predatory tobacco industry targeting, many of these communities continue to lag far behind the mainstream.

With funding through the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) of California, which administered the California Cancer Research Fund* this year for the University of California, a collaborative is working to help their communities catch up by ensuring that critical tobacco use data on California’s most diverse and vulnerable populations are shared and disseminated within those communities. While these communities face the greatest disparities related to tobacco use and the impact of tobacco, they are also the least educated on these issues and have benefitted the least from California’s historic gains in tobacco control. Helping to increase these communities’ understanding of the impact of tobacco use on vulnerable populations will lead to increased mobilization of tobacco control program and policy initiatives.

The ADEPT Project is comprised of five partners working with six vulnerable populations: Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL); the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC); Coalition of Lavender-Americans on Smoking & Health (CLASH), who work with the LGBT community; Break Free Alliance of the Health Education Council, who work with the low socioeconomic status (SES) community; and the University of Southern California (USC), who work with Hispanic/Latino and American Indian communities.

“We must educate and empower our communities to act,” said Rod Lew, Executive Director of APPEAL, “all Californians should benefit from these historic health gains, with no communities left behind.”

The ADEPT project is funded through the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) of California, which administered the project’s funding from the California Cancer Research Fund*for the University of California. ADEPT operates on the premise that: 1) There is a disproportionate impact of cancer and tobacco-related diseases on vulnerable populations; 2) While some critical data have been collected on various vulnerable populations in California, this data has not been widely disseminated; 3) Wide dissemination of critical tobacco data for vulnerable populations can expand the knowledge base and lead to increased mobilization of communities on tobacco prevention interventions and policy initiatives.

*Contributions to the California Cancer Research Fund are used to conduct research relating to the causes, detection, and prevention of cancer and to expand community-based education on cancer, and to provide prevention and awareness activities for communities that are disproportionately at risk or afflicted by cancer.

Look for the voluntary contribution lines or tell your tax preparer about donating to the California Breast Cancer Research Fund on line 405 and/or the California Cancer Research Fund on line 413 of your state tax Form 540.

To learn more information about California’s Voluntary Contributions, see the Franchise Tax Board’s FAQ page.

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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