Oakland, Calif. (May 28, 2015) – Faith and activism are aligning to shed light on the devastation caused by the menthol and flavor additives used to help make tobacco the #1 preventable cause of disease, disability, and death among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs).
“Menthol and flavorings are designed to make tobacco more appealing, easier to consume, and harder to quit. And, they’re marketed heavily to AANHPIs and other communities of color,” said Rod Lew, founding executive director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL). “No Menthol Sunday is the perfect opportunity to bring attention to the deadly addictiveness of mentholated tobacco products including e-cigarettes.”
No Menthol Sunday is a nation-wide campaign created by the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN), coinciding with World No Tobacco Day on May 31, to organize faith-based organizations as a means to spread the word about the impact that menthol and other flavorings have on communities of color. With its long history of working with allies across communities, APPEAL aims to broaden the campaign to include the AA and NHPI community as 53.2% of adult Native Hawaiian smokers and 31.2% of adult Asian American smokers reported smoking a menthol brand. Especially important are the youth. Nationwide, 51.5% of Asian American youth smokers and 41.4% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander youth smokers, aged 12-17 years, report smoking a menthol brand.
Joining the No Menthol Sunday campaign, Lake Park United Methodist Church on the shores of Lake Meritt in Oakland serves a diverse community including a large AANHPI membership. Lake Park UMC has long worked to minister to the physical, as well as spiritual health of its community though its health ministry called the Lake Park UMC and Faith Community Church UCC Joint Health Ministry.
“Participating in No Menthol Sunday is a fantastic way for us to not only educate our own members about the terrible impacts of mentholated and flavored tobacco, but also to join faith organizations across the country to take action against the disproportionate impact on many communities of color,” said Pastor John Oda of Lake Park UMC.
Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy & Leadership (APPEAL) is a national organization working towards social justice and a tobacco-free Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) community. Founded in 1994, it has since established itself an important national network providing key technical assistance and resources on health justice.