While NHPI adults in California have lower 30-day smoking rates than the NHPI national average, they have among the highest rates in the state at 31% for males and 16% for females compared with overall male and female averages of 19% and 12%, respectively (California Health Interview Survey, 2005
). Similarly, the 30-day smoking prevalence rate for NHPI high school students nationally is 24.8% compared with the general high school population at 19.5% (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010
), whereas in California the NHPI smoking rate among 11th graders is 15.0% compared with all 11th graders at 13.0% (California Health Kids Survey, 2010
). Aware of the smoking problem in their communities, five NHPI-led CBOs in Southern California: the Guam Communications Network (GCN), Pacific Islander Health Partnership (PIHP), Samoan National Nurses Association (SNNA), Tongan Community Service Center (TCSC), and Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) have acted as stalwarts against tobacco use. Given the dearth of published NHPI data to substantiate what they observed on a daily basis, the CBOs sought out opportunities to combat cigarette smoking in their communities.
As anti-tobacco advocates and educators, the CBOs have used outreach strategies to provide community members with culturally tailored, multilingual anti-smoking materials through printed items, public service announcements and videos, and presentations at various venues, including churches, festivals, health fairs, civic clubs, social gatherings, and youth groups. They have also engaged in anti-tobacco coalition building and participation with municipal and state governments, state and national organizations, and businesses. To counter the Marlboro-sponsored Long Beach Grand Prix, NHPI CBOs participated in a coalition that created a tobacco-free grand prix for youth. Another example is Project RIDE, a state-wide effort to promote the adoption of tobacco-free sponsorship policies and events associated with car shows, racing teams, and other automotive-related areas of influence, including car magazines and automotive shops. In 2010, GCN was awarded a Project RIDE grant for Southern California that focused on the inclusion of NHPIs. These activities serve as models of how communities can come together in innovative ways to oppose key health threats, such as tobacco advertising.
The NHPI-led CBOs have been staunch supporters of policy adoption and enforcement, including the creation of smoke-free indoor and outdoor environments, bans on tobacco use at entertainment and community events, and enforcement of retail restrictions on tobacco sales to minors. UPAC in conjunction with the Pacific Islander Festival Association (PIFA) and other local NHPI organizations collaborated with the City of San Diego tobacco coalition to pass End Tobacco Advertisement and Sales to Kids (ETASK), a city ordinance that became the impetus for a no-smoking ban at public playgrounds in the city. Working with San Diego County, they also participated in smoke-free bar compliance checks. PIFA's smoke-free policy, which prohibits the sale or use of tobacco products on festival grounds, preceded San Diego's smoke-free parks and beach ordinance of 2006. In the greater Long Beach area, GCN worked with the Coalition for a Smoke-Free Long Beach, which succeeded in passing smoke-free ordinances for parks, beaches, apartments, indoor events, and indoor/outdoor dining spots. Most recently with funding from Los Angeles County, TCSC was instrumental in the passage of an ordinance for the City of Carson that bans smoking at ATMs and bus stops. Importantly, the CBOs have played a vital role in educating local and national level policy makers, many of whom had little knowledge of priority health-related issues in NHPI communities, such as the importance of smoke-free environments.
The NHPI-led CBOs are diverse in their skill sets and scope. They have benefited from technical assistance ranging from advocacy training to policy development provided by organizations, such as Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL; Lew, 2004
). To support their tobacco-related activities, the CBOs have received numerous grants from state and federal sources and foundations. For example, they are currently co-investigators on a community–academic project to develop a mobile phone–based cessation program for NHPI young adults through the NCI-funded Weaving an Islander Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training (WINCART; Tanjasiri et al., 2007