Commercial tobacco disproportionately impacts communities of color and LGBTQ communities partly as a result of targeted marketing by the tobacco industry, the historic exclusion of diverse communities, and ongoing disparities in society due to economic, social, political, and institutional inequalities.1 Although it is important to acknowledge these disparities, our focus must be on moving past these inequities by taking proactive steps towards creating a tobacco control movement that encompasses diversity, inclusivity and parity.

Achieving parity means:

  • Increasing participation and inclusion of diverse communities in critical decision-making within tobacco control organizations
  • Bringing about equity in the distribution of resources (i.e. capacity building, funding opportunities, and services) necessary to address the disproportionate use of tobacco and exposure to secondhand smoke.

Doing your part to achieve parity

APPEAL and the Alliance on Advancing Parity & Leadership for Priority Populations (Parity Alliance) have promoted advancing parity as a high priority in the tobacco control movement.

The following are steps you can take to make your organization more responsive to the needs of communities of color and priority populations in regards to tobacco-related issues:2

  • Conduct a self assessment of organizational diversity and inclusivity.
  • Increase community knowledge about all priority population groups that exist in your community.
  • Build relationships with community-based organizations, clinics, associations and leaders from other communities.
  • Make tobacco relevant in your community and relate it to your community’s concerns.
  • Include communities of color and other priority populations in your organization’s strategic planning process and in any policy efforts.
  • Develop measurable goals and objectives, and conduct an evaluation to determine if you are achieving inclusivity and parity for all the groups in your community.

For more information on the steps highlighted above, please read the Parity Kit developed by the Parity Alliance.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups – African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1998.

2 Independent Task Force on Advancing Parity and Leadership for Priority Populations. Moving Toward Health Achieving Parity through Tobacco Control for All Communities, 2002.