Tobacco is the single-greatest, preventable source of death and disease among racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.  Tobacco companies continue to target communities of color and, in particular, youth with menthol and other flavor additives.  Let’s chat about that, shall we?

Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up, and seize control against Big Tobacco.  This Kick Butts Day on March 16, 2016, 1-2 p.m. (Pac) APPEAL is gathering groups dedicated to fighting the effects of tobacco for a Twitter chat (#KickButtsChat) aimed at bringing the key goals of Kick Butts Day to our diverse communities of color:

  • Raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in our communities;
  • Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free; and
  • Urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.

We hope you’ll join us and some of the key networks working toward the health of communities of color for #KickButtsChat on Twitter, March 16, 1-2 p.m. (Pac).

Some of the questions we’ll ask are:

  1. How does tobacco use affect our communities? Youth prevalence? (Stats, disease prevalence, etc.)
  2. Do menthol and other flavorings pose a threat to youth in the general population and youth in our communities in particular and, if so how?
  3. What are the most commonplace and/or events where tobacco product marketing occur to reach youth/teens frequently in your city, town, or community and are incentives associated with tobacco use?
  4. What are some of the most relevant spokespersons, celebrities, or figures (e.g. relatives, peers) who use some form of tobacco that youth/teens identify with or influenced by?
  5. Effective resources for cessation?
  6. Any upcoming tobacco control events to promote by us and/or the other networks?

We’re hoping that responses will be specific to each community and really draw out resources and strategies that are culturally/linguistically appropriate for particular communities of color.

Featured participates for the chat include:

@KeepItSacred – National Native Network

@nationalcouncil – National Council for Behavioral Health

@SelfMadeHealth – Self Made Health Network

@AAHC_HOPEClinic – HOPE Clinic, Houston

@Health4Americas – Nuestras Voices Network – National Alliance for Hispanic Health

@LGBTHealthLink – LGBT Health Link, a program of Center Link


@GeoHealthAlliance – Geographic Health Equity Alliance

@tobaccofreekids – Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids


Thhank you to our presenters and to all those who participated in the webinar!

For those who missed the webinar, a recorded version is available here.

Please join us for an important webinar featuring the tobacco control work underway in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. These are two regions with unique challenges in eliminating tobacco-related health disparities. The region’s youth are vulnerable to targeted marketing by the tobacco industry and multiple jurisdictions across the Pacific make creating consistent tobacco control policy uniquely difficult. In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to raise the age of purchase of tobacco products to 21 years old. Join us as we discuss current tobacco control efforts and future plans to surmount challenges facing the region.

Date: March 9, 2016, 2:30pm PT/March 10, 2016 8:30am Guam

Featured speakers:
May Rose Dela Cruz, DrPH – ‘Imi Hale Native Hawaiian Cancer Network
Elizabeth Guerrero – Pacific Partners for Tobacco Free Islands

Register at

Deadline to register: March 8, 2016


We’re excited to invite all of our partners, friends, and neighbors to our Open House to celebrate APPEAL’s recent move to new offices!

The Open House is scheduled Tues., March 1, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., 424 3rd. St., Suite 220, Oakland, CA, 94607 – in the Jack London Warehouse District.

Stop by to chat and check out our new digs, as well as light snacks and refreshments.

Please RSVP to [email protected] or (510) 844-4147.

#APIWorldCancerDay Twitter Chat was a huge success with an incredible amount of information shared by the RAISE Partners about programs and strategies proven to address cancer in AANHPI communities.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  If you missed the chat, please visit the Storify and check it out!

World Cancer Day, coming up on February 4, is a day to raise awareness and get as many people as possible talking about this terrible killer and changer of lives. Cancer, of course, affects millions from every ethnicity, but Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) are the first ethnic group to experience cancer as the #1 cause of death. So, the members of the RAISE Network will focus the discussion toward our vulnerable communities through a Twitter chat under the hashtag #APIWorldCancerDay from 1-2 p.m., Pacific Time.

RAISE is a network of national and local organizations working together to prevent and reduce tobacco use and other cancer-related health disparities in the diverse AANHPI communities. The partners that comprise the network use evidence-based public health models and strategies that are culturally competent and population specific.

The #APIWorldCancerDay Twitter chat will feature RAISE Partners answering key questions around the issue of cancer in AANHPI communities and sharing proven strategies that have demonstrated success in the fight against cancer in our communities.  Below are some the questions we plan to address during the chat:

  1. What cancers affect AANHPI communities the most?
  2. Most successful program to boost screening & which cancer does it address?
  3. How do you reach out to different AANHPI communities and what barriers do you face?
  4. What types of support/resources do you provide to help those with limited English proficiency?
  5. What types of support/resources do you provide to help those going through/surviving cancer?
  6. What resources are need most in addressing cancer in AANHPI communities?

Please join us for #APIWorldCancerDay, Feb. 4, 1-2 p.m., Pacific.

Featured RAISE Partners for the chat include:

@aapchotweets & @hepbpolicy  Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)

@AAHC_HOPEClinic  HOPE Clinic, Houston

@appealhealth  Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership

Find out more about the RAISE Network and the partners here.

A passionate and dedicated group from Southern California’s vibrant Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities gathered recently to hone their leadership skills at a training session conducted by Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL).

Representatives from Southern California-based AANHPI organizations, Guam Communications Network (CGN), Families In Good Health (FIGH), and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), participated in the leadership development event, Aug. 14-15, under the auspices of APPEAL’s Community-lead Policies and Leadership to Eliminate Disparities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on Tobacco (Com-PLEAT) Program.

(Leadership training participants present a skit to highlight the cultural influences the contribute to the use of tobacco in the Cambodian community)

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is the main focus of the ComPLEAT Program, but leadership development is also a key element intended to provide vulnerable communities with the skills needed to participate in research as equal partners, as well as the skills needed to lead their communities in campaigns aimed at addressing health disparities.

The August training sessions were designed to increase tobacco control leadership knowledge and skills among community advocates for Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Cambodian communities including current tobacco issues, coalition building and policy skills, as well as to help community partners prepare for and present on their policy change projects.

EPIC and GCN’s campaigns focus on smoke-free multiunit housing and community smoke-free policies, while FIGH’s campaign focuses on smoke-free skate parks.

Join us for a RAISE Network webinar hosted by APPEAL and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) featuring the Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ), a CDC-funded national tobacco cessation quitline for Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-speaking smokers. Since its launch in 2012, ASQ has reached over 7,000 callers representing 48 states. Join us to learn what services ASQ continues to provide, their future plans for promotion, and what states and tobacco control advocates can do to raise awareness and ensure ASQ reaches their communities.

Date: March 17, 2015

Time: 1pm PT
To register for the webinar, please visit:
(Webinar log-in will be provided after registration)

Shu-Hong Zhu, PhD – Principal Investigator, ASQ, UCSD
Caroline Chen, MPH, PhD – Project Manager, ASQ, UCSD

Joann Lee, DrPH, CHES – Program Manager, APPEAL

Microsoft Word - HEALTH_ADVISORY 01.28.2015 FINAL.docx

Tobacco is a leading cause of death among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) and after two decades of work fighting the ravages of tobacco in our communities, Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL), welcomes the State Health Officer’s Report on the dangers of E-Cigarettes announced Wed., Jan. 28, by the California Department of Health. The state joins 74 cities and counties throughout California that, in 2014, recognized the threat of e-cigs and implemented policies to protect their residents.

“This afternoon’s press conference, held by the California Tobacco Control Program and California Department of Health, makes clear that e-cigarettes pose a threat to the health of our communities. We at APPEAL welcome the state’s clarity and its decision to issue a health advisory to medical practitioners altering them to the threat,” said Rod Lew, founding executive director of APPEAL.

At the heart of the report are startling numbers. For the first time ever, national data showed that among U.S. teens, use of e-cigarettes actually surpassed the use of traditional cigarettes in 2014. The State Health Officer’s Report included preliminary data from the California Healthy Kids Survey of more than 430,000 middle and high schools students that reflected this same trend- 6% of 7th graders use e-cigarettes vs. 2% smoke traditional cigarettes; 12% of 9th graders use e-cigarettes vs. 4% smoke traditional cigarettes; and 14% of 11th graders use e-cigarettes vs. 6.8% smoke traditional cigarettes. In all instances, the e-cigarette use is much higher than use of traditional cigarettes.

The impacts on AANHPI communities appear to be even more shocking. Preliminary data from a 2014 survey of Asian and Pacific Islanders between 18 and 25 years old in California show that while 8% of respondents currently smoke traditional cigarettes, 17% currently use electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), like e-cigs and e-hookahs, with that number jumping to 22% among male respondents.

“We at APPEAL strongly believe that e-cigs are a new way to deliver the same additive drug – nicotine — that allows Big Tobacco to dodge regulations enacted to protect our communities and our youth from death and disease,” said Lew.

One of APPEAL’s key missions is to protect our communities and, in particular, the next generation from a lifetime of nicotine addiction. In spite of claims by those who sell e-cigs that their products provide help in quitting the use of tobacco products, the state report points out that there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes. In addition, dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes is continuing to rise, which may diminish any potential benefits of cutting back on traditional cigarettes.

People wanting to quit should use cessation resources offered by their health insurance plan including access to FDA-approved cessation aids. The California Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-NO BUTTS is a free, effective resource available to all Californians wanting to quit any and all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The California Smokers’ Helpline provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Ultimately, nicotine is an additive substance that provides no benefit and is associated historically with considerable adverse impacts on health. Decades of work, millions of dollars, and literally millions of deaths have been invested in fighting the impact that tobacco and nicotine have had on AANHPI communities. We strongly oppose products that threaten to undo that investment and applaud the California Department of Health and California Tobacco Control Program for providing clear and important information on the subject.

Tobacco is the #1 preventable cause of disease, disability, and death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and is associated with the top three killers of AAPIs – heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Even as the nation as a whole prepares for the Great American Smokeout coming up on November 20, many AAPI subgroups (Chinese, Filipino, Cambodian, Korean, Lao, Vietnamese, and others) face disproportionate rates of tobacco use and associated health impacts. So, APPEAL’s RAISE Network is re-branding the mainstream Great American Smokeout (Nov. 20) as the Great Asian American Smokeout.

Please join in by snapping a photo of yourself making the face that best shows your feelings about smoking and post it to #RAISEwellness and #GreatAmericanSmokeout on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Find out more on the Great Asian American Smokeout page!

When former smokers have the opportunity to tell their stories about how tobacco has led to devastating consequences in their lives, it can be a powerful way to impact the lives of others.

APPEAL is proud to announce our recent partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Together, we are conducting a national search to identify candidates who are willing to share their compelling tobacco-related stories in an upcoming national tobacco education campaign, Tips From Former Smokers (Tips).  For the next campaign, APPEAL is focused on boosting recruitment of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander candidates to insure that our heavily impacted communities are represented in cessation outreach.

Similar to previous campaigns seen here, real people who have had life-changing, smoking-related health issues will be featured. CDC is requesting our assistance in identifying individuals who fit its recruitment criteria and who may be interested in participating in the Tips campaign. For the 2016 Tips campaign, CDC is looking for stories from former smokers who:

  • Have or have had anxiety OR depression (not both) and a serious health condition due to smoking (ages 30–60)
  • Have been diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) due to smoking (ages 40–55)
  • Currently serve or have served in the military and have been diagnosed with a serious health condition due to smoking (i.e., coronary artery disease/heart attack, COPD, peripheral artery disease, cancer, or stroke) (ages 30–60)
  • Have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis while smoking (ages 25–60)
  • Have used electronic cigarettes along with tobacco cigarettes instead of quitting because they thought it was better for their health than smoking cigarettes alone and yet they experienced a severe health problem (ages 20–60)
  • Have been diagnosed with a serious health condition caused by smoking and now have a compelling positive story about the benefits experienced since quitting (ages 18–54)

Visit for more information. Please share any referrals you might have with APPEAL’s Joann Lee at [email protected], or contact Mimi Webb Miller Casting by e-mail ([email protected]) or by phone (toll free) (844) 274-9816.


Dr. Howard Koh Departs HHS After 5 Years of Important Work Tackling AANHPI Health Disparities

Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy &Leadership (APPEAL) recognizes the tireless work and tremendous impact of Dr. Howard Koh as he departs his post as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).

“We will always be indebted to Dr. Koh for his efforts to curb tobacco use in our communities,” said Rod Lew, executive director of the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy & Leadership(APPEAL). “He has been one of our greatest champions for the past 20 years in the fight for a tobacco-free society.”

Across an impressive spectrum of roles from primary-care physician to academic researcher to his tenure as a diligent public servant, Dr. Koh has demonstrated a deep commitment to improving public health. APPEAL is particularly appreciative of Dr. Koh’s efforts as a strong ally in our efforts to curb the impacts of tobacco and cancer in underserved communities, including Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.

His tireless work was behind the Obama administration’s efforts to accelerate progress against tobacco usage, including the first-ever, federal Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan and the National Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, which promotes and supports tobacco-free policies at universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning across the U.S. Dr. Koh has also been the driving force to ensure that the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid provide coverage for tobacco cessation.

“Dr. Koh’s efforts on addressing the tobacco epidemic are unmatched and he will be greatly missed at HHS,” Lew continued. “But, his work has paved the way to end tobacco use for the next generation and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.”

Dr. Koh will continue his remarkable career and his decades of work toward improving public health as Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

It is with a deep sense of gratitude that APPEAL joins the many communities touched by Dr. Koh in wishing him well in his new role.