October 29, 2003
HONOLULU, HAWAII – Health care professionals, community
leaders and government officials will gather this week to explore what
can be done to counter the tobacco industry’s continuing strategy
of targeting vulnerable populations and how to ensure that tobacco
settlement dollars continue to be available for comprehensive tobacco
prevention programs in Hawaii.
"The poor, the educationally disadvantaged, women and youth are
being targeted harder than ever by tobacco marketing," said Chiyome L.
Fukino, M.D., Director, Hawai`i State Department of Health. "While
we’ve made some progress toward saving lives and reducing
tobacco-related health care costs, we need to ensure that these
anti-tobacco efforts continue and we will only be able to do that with
adequate funding from the tobacco settlement."
The conference, Making Waves: Pursuing Health and Justice in
Tobacco Control will highlight how the tobacco industry has
succeeded in addicting those who have the least information about the
health risks of smoking, the fewest resources and the least access to
cessation services. Hawai‘i’s minority and lower-income
women have the highest rates of tobacco use. Across the state, 16% of
women in Hawai‘i are smokers, yet almost 26% of Native Hawaiian
women smoke. Nearly 47% of all women who currently smoke have an
average household income of less than $25,000/year.
The link between smoking and low income and lower levels of
education cannot be overemphasized, according to Dr. Cheryl Healton,
President and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation. "This is not a
social issue alone. It is not a medical issue alone. It is not an
economic issue alone. It is an issue of social justice."
Although the tobacco settlement happened almost five years ago, the
industry has not given up its efforts to addict those who have the
fewest resources and least access to cessation services. Billions of
dollars are spent to portray the industry as part of the solution to
the problem of tobacco use, when in fact it remains the major cause of
the growing problem.
"While tobacco businesses seek to portray themselves as responsible
companies, they spend money on marketing that addicts our youth and
remains the major cause of the problem of tobacco use, especially among
kids," said Daniel McGoldrick, Director of Research of the National
Center for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Elected officials at all levels should
reject efforts by big tobacco and act instead to protect Hawaii’s
kids from the tobacco industry."
"We believe the conference is a step forward in having all sectors
of our state work together to solve the problem," said Lieutenant
Governor James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr. "We’ve got the money in place
to keep working at identifying various population groups being targeted
by the tobacco industry and opportunities to participate in the tobacco
control movement – thus working toward a healthier Hawaii."
The bi-annual Conference was convened by the State DOH and the
Tobacco Prevention & Education Program for community leaders in
health, business, labor, education and government to help Hawaii
address this major issue and support existing organizations and
programs working to educate pregnant women, minorities and young
Making Waves is held in conjunction with the Hawai`i
Community Foundation Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund, the
Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai`i, The American Cancer Society
Hawai`i-Pacific, Inc., The American Heart Association of Hawai`i, The
American Lung Association of Hawai`i, the Cancer Research Center of
Hawai`i, the Center, Hawai`i Department of Health’s Alcohol &
Drug Abuse Division and the Maternal Child Health Branch, The
Queen’s Medical Center Health Education and Wellness Program and
the University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine Department
of Public Health Sciences.
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For more information, contact:
Joan Bennet & Associates, Inc.
Phone: (808) 531-6087 ext. 2
Cell: (808) 228-0211
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418