ST. PAUL (Jan. 28, 2015) — Several health equity advocates and organizations based within American Indian, communities of color and LGBTQ community were concerned by the recent press release and discussion related to the Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey finding of a continued decline smoking rates in Minnesota.
The latest Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey (MATS) report released January 22, 2015, masks the health inequities that exist in commercial tobacco use by American Indians, communities of color and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities.
While the MATS boasts good news for Minnesota, revealing decreased statewide smoking rate of 14.4 percent in 2014, down from 22.1 percent in 1999, and it recognizes certain disparities in “Who smokes in Minnesota”, including those with lower educational attainment and lower income; the report release omits any discussion of the significant disparity in smoking rates for American Indians, communities of color and LGBTQ communities as compared to overall rates.
A 2013 study by tribal communities in partnership with the University of Minnesota documented the statewide smoking rate for American Indians is 59 percent, similarly a study by Rainbow Health Initiative indicates the overall rate in Minnesota’s LGBTQ community is 30 percent and 36 percent for LGBTQ persons of color. The Minnesota Cancer Facts and Figures (2011) indicates the smoking rates for Hispanic men is 26 percent and for African American men 23 percent.
We know Minnesota’s communities of color and American Indian communities have lower high school graduation rates and lower incomes than Minnesotans overall; thus it should not be surprising to see these huge disparities in smoking rates. Inequalities in health are direct indicators of the institutional racism identified by the Minnesota Department of Health in the Advancing Health Equity in Minnesota report released in 2014.
Disproportionate commercial tobacco use in our communities is not a secret, and thus to continue Minnesota’s decline in smoking rates, we must immediately invest significant dollars in commercial tobacco use prevention strategies explicitly targeting American Indians, communities of color and LGBTQ communities. It is in the best interest of all Minnesotans to rapidly move towards health equity for all communities
American Indian Cancer Foundation
Health Equity Working Committee
Rainbow Health Initiative
Sierra Leone Community in Minnesota
Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota
CLUES – Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio