American Lung Association report aims to reduce tobacco use in Northern California rural communities |

American Lung Association report aims to reduce tobacco use in Northern California rural communities

Special to the Sun

The American Lung Associationand#8217;s latest health disparity report, Cutting Tobaccoand#8217;s Rural Roots: Tobacco Use in Rural Communities, examines tobacco addiction and exposure to secondhand smoke in rural communities nationwide, particularly among rural youth. Tobacco use is higher in rural communities than in suburban and urban communities, and smokeless tobacco use is twice as common. Rural youth also are more likely to use tobacco and to start earlier than urban youth, perpetuating the cycle of tobacco addiction and death and disease.

California is a leader in fighting the harmful effects of tobacco with a statewide smoking prevalence rate of 12.1 percent compared to the national average of 17.1 percent. In rural regions of the state however, the prevalence is significantly higher with smoking rates as high as 21 percent. The California counties with the highest smoking rates are all rural counties: Tuolumne, Butte, Calaveras, Humboldt, and Merced. In addition, according to the Lung Associationand#8217;s State of Tobacco Control 2012 and#8211; California Local Grades report, 102 out of 121 rural communities received an F grade for failing to enact strong policies for smoke-free outdoor environments, smoke-free housing, and reducing sales of tobacco products.

and#8220;Tobacco use is often more socially acceptable in rural areas, making it more likely that kids living in these communities will also start to use tobacco,and#8221; said Jane Warner, president and CEO, American Lung Association in California. and#8220;Leaders and residents in rural communities need to take a stand against the culture of tobacco use as part of life and empower our future generations to have healthy, tobacco-free lives.and#8221;

There are a number of environmental and social factors that contribute to the generational cycle of tobacco use among youth and adults in rural America. Increased tobacco use is associated with lower education levels and lower income, which are both common in rural areas where there may be fewer opportunities for educational and economic advancement. Exposure to secondhand smoke also is higher as rural communities are less likely to have smoke-free air laws in place and residents are less likely to refuse to allow smoking in their homes or other indoor places.

The American Lung Association offers smoking cessation resources to help people quit smoking for good:

and#8226; Freedom From Smoking (FFS) is a program that teaches the skills and techniques that have been proven to help hundreds of thousands of adults quit smoking. FFS is available as a group clinic, and online program, and a self-help book.

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and#8226; Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNG-USA) offers one-on-one support from registered nurses and respiratory therapists. Individuals have the opportunity to seek guidance on lung health and find out how to participate in and join the Lung Association smoking cessation programs.

and#8226; Not-On-Tobacco (N-O-T) is a group program designed to help 14 to 19-year-old smokers end their addiction to nicotine. The curriculum consists of 10, 50-minute sessions that typically occur once a week for 10 weeks.

In addition to expanding the Lung Associationand#8217;s capability to provide its programs and services to the rural community, there also are several other action steps to reduce rural tobacco use. These steps are detailed in the full report, and include that state and federal tobacco control programs must make a concerted effort and dedicate funding to reach rural communities; the research community should focus attention and resources on identifying effective cessation treatments for smokeless tobacco use; and school, health and employment systems in rural areas must all implement effective tobacco control strategies including smoke-free air policies and access to cessation services.

This report is part of the Lung Associationand#8217;s Disparities in Lung Health Series. For more information and to download the report, please visit

About the American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is and#8220;Fighting for Airand#8221; through research, education and advocacy. For more information call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit