By Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Creative Problem-Solving and Arkansas
After Gustavo’s trip to Arkansas last week and blog post about forging national and local partnerships, I wanted to share another very cool Arkansas-related health equity resource, LGBT/HIV and Tobacco Survey Report prepared by Dathan Johnson, BS and the Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program through the Arkansas Department of Health.
In February, the Arkansas DoH set out to better understand the high rates of tobacco use in LGBT communities, as well as which strategies would be most effective for reaching these populations with cessation and public health messages.
The survey had some very interesting results, including that “none of the 30 participants who answered the question could correctly list the Arkansas Tobacco Quit line number”, which was of “most concern”. Additionally, 86% of the participants who smoke stated that “if given the resources and support, they would cut down or quit using tobacco”.
The conclusions that they came to after this survey were both insightful and extremely relevant;
“tobacco cessation should be strongly addressed in the LGBT community in
Arkansas through radio, TV, and the Internet (i.e., Facebook.com). Programs that target the LGBT population need to be developed to both prevent the initiation of tobacco use and help smokers quit. ADH TPCP will establish a work group with the objective of generating targeted, effective tobacco control strategies in a small group setting for this community.”
They also not only recommend that a “concerted effort be made to heighten LGBT-focused organizations’ awareness of tobacco control as a public health priority in the community” but pledged to assist local LGBT organizations in including tobacco control advocacy and programs in their scope of activities to build healthier communities.
These results speak to the greater issue of lack of access to health resources in the LGBT community. The steps that the Arkansas Department of Health are taking to support local LGBT organizations is admirable, but sadly, rare. In the fight against tobacco it seems that the most basic strategies aren’t working. So…do we go smaller or bigger? If even the seemingly most straightforward intervention, telling people the number of the quitline, doesn’t stick, then what is the next step?
Maybe instead of recreating the wheel, maybe we improve upon the work that has already been done. I am always most inspired by creative, almost too-simple-to-be-true strategies. An example that comes to mind is the Q-drum. In places without running water, people often have to walk many miles each day to access water for bathing, cooking and drinking as well as agriculture. Water is heavy so the amount that can actually be carried is small. The Q-drum is incredibly simple but revolutionary in its success.
Lets use the Q-drum as inspiration. Lets look at the resources we have available but try to see them in a new way.
One of the Arkansas study participants wrote, “I do not think any form of media would really
grab my attention” but then went on to mention anti-smoking campaigns that they remembered, one even by name! So I guess the question is how to consciously INVOLVE people and communities in anti-tobacco work. The advertisements are out there, and they are being noticed, but maybe not in a way that STICKS. So do we push harder? Do we try something new? I guess that’s for all of us to decide…
What creative solutions do you use? What is a challenge that you have? Lets start a dialogue and bounce around ideas until we create our own, LGBT health equity and tobacco control Q-drum.
A great first step is to join our discussion Listserve and stay informed about what others are doing and keep all of us updated about your work (to sign up, click here and fill in your email under “Join the Fight” on the right side of the page, or shoot me an email!). Also, check out our Resource Library, which has research, articles, surveys, presentations and lots of other great resources from a whole variety of organizations and individuals around LGBT health and tobacco control. Get connected!
We are so excited about the work around LGBT health equity and tobacco that is happening in Arkansas and want to give a huge shout-out to the folks who are doing such great work. Thanks for asking the right questions and searching for the best answers.