Cutting Hispanic smoking goal of group
A Tippecanoe County tobacco cessation program has hired a coordinator to target Spanish-speaking smokers in Tippecanoe County.
Community and Family Resource Center will partner with the Minority Health Coalition through a tobacco settlement grant of $54,000 for the first year.
The grant money will fund cessation literature and brochures, as well as part of the salary of the program's only staff member, Alex Rodriguez, Hispanic research specialist.
Rodriguez, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology, will teach relaxation techniques to help clients quit smoking.
He also will encourage owners of Hispanic businesses to display anti-tobacco posters. One of his goals is for businesses to ban smoking on their premises.
"Statistics show a significant increase in minority smokers in the last few years," Rodriguez said. "A lot of it comes from high-stress situations."
Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican, was born and raised in New York. He moved to Puerto Rico for 41/2 years to study psychology at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, he said.
"It certainly helped me brush up on my Spanish," he said. "I learned both English and Spanish from my parents when I was young, and I'm grateful for it."
Rodriguez received his bachelor's degree in 2001 and recently moved to Lafayette because his wife is working on a master's degree at Purdue University. He is now working toward an associate's degree in computer networking at Ivy Tech State College.
Natalie Kubat, CFRC emergency services director, recruited him for the position after meeting him at the college, where he was working in a temporary office position.
"He has a wonderful personality," she said. "He understands the dynamics of working with another type of population that's diverse and a minority."
Also, she noted he is a former smoker who can relate to clients' efforts to quit.
"He brings that to the situation where he can say, 'I know what you're going through. I did it and so can you.' "
The Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation grant awarded $25,000 to CFRC and $29,000 to Minority Health Coalition, Rodriguez said. The effort will also include the Latino Coalition.
"CFRC is very excited to be partnering with other community groups," Rodriguez said. "This partnership will reduce tobacco use and the prevalence of second-hand smoke in Tippecanoe County."
One partnership will be with Aida Munoz, Latino program director for the Minority Health Coalition. Last year, Munoz hosted her first anti-tobacco class, an eight-week session that targeted teen-agers.
This year, the two will present several eight-week classes for adults that will teach smokers about alternatives to tobacco and their spouses about second-hand smoke's effects, Munoz said. They also will teach non-smokers how to talk to children about tobacco.
"This way, they will be healthier and good role models for their children and other young people," Munoz said.