Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of illness and disability in the United States and accounts for over 440,000 deaths each year. It is a risk factor for four of the five leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, stroke, lung cancer, and emphysema/COPD. In Los Angeles County, tobacco use is associated with the top five causes of death: coronary heart disease (14.6%), stroke (9.3%), respiratory (lung/tracheal/bronchial) cancer (77%), pneumonia (14.7%), and emphysema (85.2%). Tobacco use is estimated to cost the country about $2.15 billion every year in direct healthcare expenditures. The use of vaping and e-cigarettes has also become an emerging public health concern nationwide. Recent studies show that more than 30 percent of Los Angeles County high school students have tried e-cigarette products, and about 10 percent regularly use them.

APIFM’s goal is to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke through community engagement and advocacy for policy change. We hope to create an environment in which tobacco use becomes less desirable and less accessible.

APIFM has partnered with the Los Angeles County Department of Public health to address tobacco use in the cities of San Marino and Diamond Bar. APIFM’s Tobacco Prevention (ToP) Team is specifically focused on secondhand smoke (SHS) in outdoor areas such as public parks, service areas, golf courses, and surrounding areas of privately owned buildings. Exposure to SHS is directly linked to many of the top preventable diseases and contains many harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which accounts for a significant amount of nonsmokers’ vulnerability to hazardous tobacco products. Experts, including the U.S. Surgeon General, continue to advocate for reducing SHS exposure as a critical approach to decrease tobacco-related death and disease. By striving to create more smoke-free environments, we have the opportunity to address the dangers that secondhand smoke presents and build toward a healthier community. Currently, many cities in Los Angeles County do not have a comprehensive tobacco policy in place that addresses SHS exposure in outdoor areas.

APIFM is also a 2021 Community Engagement Awardee for Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL). ToP Team seeks to educate, engage, and empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities to advocate for change that will decrease tobacco use and its health impacts. ToP team hopes to educate community members who are unaware of the dangers of tobacco products and highlight the need to increase awareness among the AANHPI population that are disproportionately affected by tobacco use.

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