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Press Release

Tobacco Prevention Coalition to Hear About Industry Targeting Inner-City African Americans

April 16, 2008

Systematic targeting of inner-city populations with menthol cigarette marketing has contributed to health disparities among African Americans, according to a leading researcher who will speak to a Contra Costa health advocacy group in May.

The Contra Costa County Tobacco Prevention Coalition will hear a talk by Dr. Valerie Yerger at its May 22 meeting, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the George Miller Center at 300 27th Street in Richmond.

"The overall smoking rate for Californians has decreased dramatically since 1988, but tobacco-related health disparities continue for the poor, less educated and underserved populations," said Denice Dennis, staff to the Tobacco Prevention Coalition for Contra Costa Health Services' Tobacco Prevention Project.

"Contra Costa Health Services is committed to addressing the causes of health disparities in our community," Dennis added, "and the paper written by Dr. Yerger and her colleagues is important new evidence about the link between health disparities and tobacco marketing. We want to hear about it."

The title of the paper is "Racialized Geography, Corporate Activity, and Health Disparities: Tobacco Industry Targeting of Inner Cities."

"The tobacco industry has played a complex role in the rise of tobacco-related diseases in the United States," wrote Dr. Yerger and two co-authors, published last year in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. "The industry's activities, including targeted marketing, are arguably among the most powerful corporate influences on health and health policy."

"We are excited about the opportunity to hear and talk to Dr. Yerger about a topic so important to the communities of Contra Costa," said Paul Doolittle, co-chair of the Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition. "Her research is based on analysis of more than 400 tobacco industry documents, including many focused on marketing to low-income African Americans.

"Dr. Yerger and her colleagues have concluded that some health disparities were not solely determined by factors such as unhealthy habits and unequal access to health services, but also shaped by aggressive, geographic-specific marketing and promotions," noted Doolittle.

Valerie Yerger is a Doctor of Nursing working at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing.

One of her co-authors, Ruth Malone, also works there and is a registered nurse with a PhD. The other co-author is Jennifer Przewoznik from Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the coalition, its monthly meeting or the county's Tobacco Prevention Project, call 925-313-6214.

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Press Contact
  • Denice Dennis
  • 925-313-6825