LITTLE ROCK, AR — The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services’ Stamp Out Smoking campaign, supported by prominent members of the Hispanic community, announced at a rally on January 31 at Cloverdale Middle School increased efforts to get more Hispanics in Arkansas to quit smoking.
According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 23 percent of Hispanics in Arkansas smoke, while nine percent of Hispanic youth in the state are exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke.
Local rap educator and a Hispanic health organization joined forces with State of Arkansas to expose the dangers of smoking. “Arkansas boasts one of the fastest-growing and thriving Hispanic populations in country,” said Dr. Cesar Compadre, chairman of the board of La Casa, a Hispanic health service institution funded through tobacco settlement money. “We’re proud of that fact; however, therein lies a responsibility to ensure that Hispanics in our state have the inspiration, motivation and education to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes being tobacco-free.”
“Today, smoking is responsible for 87 percent of the lung cancer deaths, which is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the Hispanic community,” said Compadre. “Educating Hispanic youth about the dangers of smoking and ensuring the message resonates is vital to the well-being of our community.”
Local rap musician Al Lopez, known to most as Papa Rap, also stood in support of Stamp Out Smoking, announcing a performance tour that includes visiting two more schools in the state.
With about 630 Cloverdale students attending the rally in the school’s gymnasium, the focus was on spreading the word about the anti-smoking resources available to them by the State of Arkansas. The message was heard through Papa Rap’s “Think before you stink” rap, as well as other motivational raps to help bring awareness to Arkansas’ youth about the dangers of smoking.
“The National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention (NLCATP) supports the Arkansas tobacco prevention programs being kicked off today, and we hope that Arkansas’ emerging Latino community will participate in the statewide smoking prevention campaign,” said Katherine Culliton, policy director of the NLCATP.
More than 100 people in Arkansas die from tobacco-related causes each week. About 44 percent of teenagers in Arkansas smoke and 50 percent of male high school students use smokeless tobacco. This is why reaching the youth is so important, teaching them that the risks that lie within picking up a cigarette or chewing tobacco can be life threatening. All teens and pre-teens should be aware of the short and long-term effects of tobacco products. Not only can it be a hazard to your health, but also to the health of those around you.
Stamp Out Smoking is a component of Governor Mike Huckabee’s Healthy Arkansas initiative.
For more information on SOS or to find help quitting, please call 1-866-NOW–QUIT or visit www.stampoutsmoking.com.