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Smoking cessation group focusing on Latino community


CENTRAL FALLS -- Among smoking cessation programs, not many are culturally tailored for Latinos.

This is why at Progreso Latino Jessica O. Gonzalez has started a smoking cessation and education program intended to make Latinos aware of the dangers of smoking and to get agencies that run such programs to make them more culturally appropriate to the Latino culture. The Progreso Latino program is being funded by the state Health Department, Gonzalez said. The Health Department is also sponsoring programs in the African American, Native American and Southeast Asian communities, Gonzalez said. To help spread the word about smoking, Gonzalez said, a Latino Tobacco Control Council made up of housewives, students and social agency workers from the Latino community has been formed. "What we are trying to do with council is trying to educate nonsmokers and smokers on the hazards of smoking. We want to develop a plan that will address tobacco issues in the state that targets Latinos. Many programs that exist are culturally inappropriate." People need to know that smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, bronchial infections and even premature menopause in women, Gonzalez says. Secondhand smoke can also cause health problems, especially among children, she said. The Latino smoking council will do a needs assessment survey in Central Falls to determine community awareness of the health dangers posed by smoking as well as what type of smoking cessation programs exist or which ones they might be interested in. They will also try to determine what people think should be done to help them stop smoking and or reduce secondhand smoke. Also, the council will look at the smoking cessation materials and programs available to the community and determine how effective they are. If they are not effective, Gonzalez said, an attempt will be made to get agencies to provide materials and programs that are culturally sensitive to Latinos. Gonzalez has made arrangements to broadcast smoking danger ads on local Spanish radio stations. She has also arranged to publish a weekly page in a local Latino newspaper that will feature community members responding to questions she asks about smoking. The Latino smoking council also plans to hold workshops at people's houses to talk about he hazards of smoking. People who volunteer to host the workshops at their houses will receive a $20 certificate, Gonzalez said. "The ultimate goal is to make sure people are aware of dangers of smoking. That people will be aware of the harm smoking does to their children and will smoke outside the house. That there are smoking cessation programs that are culturally appropriate, and that we have a stronger group of people as a result of all this," Gonzalez said.

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