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FOR RELEASE: May 9, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn

Health Disparities to be Discussed at First Ethnic Tobacco Education Summit

For the first time in Oklahoma, the state's four major ethnic populations are uniting to address the harmful effects of tobacco use. This effort will be highlighted during Ethnic Summit 2000: Exploring Disparities Together, the first statewide conference targeting African American, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latino populations and the issue of tobacco use prevention and reduction.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health, Office of Tobacco Use Prevention, is sponsoring the event May 22-23 at the Biltmore Hotel and Conference Center, I-40 and South Meridian, Oklahoma City. Registration is free and begins at 10 a.m.

"Historically, ethnic populations have been targeted by the tobacco industry for the sale of tobacco," said Robert Vincent, deputy commissioner for Health Planning and Policy Development, Oklahoma State Department of Health. "This summit is an important step toward strategic planning for network formation, leadership development, and the training to successfully address the health problems caused by the tobacco industry in ethnic communities."

Conference speakers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health will be Dr. Robert Robinson, associate director for Program Development and Victor Medrano, program consultant. Overview of a Model to Eliminate Population Disparities for Communities, Race/Ethnic Groups and Other Groups will be discussed by Dr. Robinson, and Medrano will address Coalition Building: Strength through Diversity.

Other presenters will include representatives from the California Ethnic Tobacco Education Network Programs, who will share information regarding the successes and challenges of their state's networks. Brenda Bell-Caffee will represent the California African American Network; Gerry RainingBird, the Native American Network; Betty Hong, the Asian and Pacific Islander Network; and Sylvia Jimenez, the Latino/Hispanic Network. I

n addition, William Robinson of William S. Robinson & Associates from South Carolina will address cultural competence. Cynthia Coachman of the Creek Nation and Sherri Siegle of the Chickasaw Nation and Chair of the Native American Tobacco Coalition of Oklahoma (NATCO) will present Grassroots Building and Advocacy in Oklahoma. Lawrence Shorty will address Native American Historical, Contextual and Geographical Determinants that Should Guide Public Health Practice as well as How an Oklahoma Native American Tribe Secured Tobacco Tax Funds for Anti-Tobacco Education. As a result of the Ethnic Tobacco Education Summit, participants will:

  • Understand how ethnic communities are targeted by the tobacco industry and what they can do to reduce this threat.
  • Lay the foundation for developing the Oklahoma Tobacco Education Networks.
  • Develop an understanding of individual and organizational cultural competence.
  • Create an environment in which diverse groups feel safe working on common goals.
  • Focus on health disparities issues in communities of color.
  • Gain awareness of the impact of tobacco on culturally diverse communities.
  • Develop culturally appropriate tobacco use prevention strategies.

Daneka Allen, Miss Oklahoma 1999, will welcome participants to the summit. A member of the Tobacco Free Oklahoma Coalition, Allen spoke to hundreds of school children about the detrimental effects of tobacco use during her recent tenure as Miss Oklahoma.

For more information about the conference and registration call the Office of Tobacco Use Prevention, 405/271-3619.


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