By Terry Miller
On Wednesday morning at City Hall in Pasadena, the Public Health director Michael Johnson, Council Members Gene Masuda and Tyrone Hampton along with other city officials held a press conference to unveil a new campaign which is intended to thwart the use of tobacco and vape products, particularly in N W Pasadena.
The City of Pasadena Public Health Department is combating the disproportionately high use of mentholated cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products by Hispanic/Latinos and African-Americans in the city, focusing in Northwest Pasadena. Funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program, this English and Spanish language media campaign uses bus shelter displays, bus interior ads, social media strategies and point-of-sale ads at tobacco retailers.
The local educational campaign in English and Spanish is focused on reaching Latino and African-American youths and adults, especially in Northwest Pasadena, with social media messages, bus shelter displays, interior placards inside Pasadena Transit buses and point-of-sale ads voluntarily used by tobacco retailers inside stores.
City Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh said tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death in the United States and statistics show the use of these types of tobacco products are very popular products with Hispanic/Latinos and African Americans.
“Most young people who use tobacco report using flavored products,” Dr. Goh said. “These products are deadly tools that hook young people onto a lifetime of tobacco use.”
Funding for the educational campaign comes from a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) Program. Currently, the federal REACH program has provided 49 grants, but Pasadena is the only city-based health department in the country to receive funding and is also the only grantee using the funds for an anti-menthol, anti-tobacco product prevention effort.
Public Health Department Director Michael Johnson said the educational campaign seeks to:
Raise awareness about the high use of mentholated cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products and the aggressive advertising tactics used by the tobacco industry.
Increase knowledge about mentholated and flavored tobacco to combat common perceptions that these products are safer than regular tobacco.
Shift prevailing attitudes about these products among Pasadena’s African-American and Latino adults and youths that these products are acceptable to use.
Dr. Ying-Ying Goh said the Use of tobacco products is still the number one preventable cause of death in the United States, and use of these types of tobacco products is disproportionately higher for Hispanic/Latinos and African Americans than for other groups. The Pasadena campaign is a three-year program to help increase awareness about the dangers of mentholated cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products, often cleverly packaged to entice young people to start using these dangerous products.