Pathways to Freedom: A 3-part Guide to Smoking Prevention and Cessation in African Americans

By Robert G. Robinson, PhD, Principal Developer of Pathways to Freedom; Former Associate Director of CDC Office on Smoking and Health; and Health Power Editor on Smoking and Health . . .

Pathways to Freedom is a 3-part Guide to Smoking Prevention. Following is a summary of the contents in each section.

Section 1 of Pathways to Freedom – Basic Facts on Smoking and Tobacco Industry TargetingDrRobinson

– Introduction to health results of smoking;[Left justify whenever a list with more than one line]

– Smoking causes more deaths in the Black Community than auto accidents, AIDS, homicides, and drug and alcohol abuse combined;

– Smoking is the cause of several cancers including lung, throat, mouth, bladder, cervix, stomach and kidney;

– Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and diabetes;

– Secondhand smoke also is a cause of disease and makes life worse for those who have asthma. This is especially harmful for children in the Black Community, who have asthma rates 25% higher than White children;

– Advertising and promotion targeted to the African American Community by the tobacco industry is constant. Ads are everywhere, and the amount of money given to community service and art organizations is almost endless;

– Elaborates on menthol and its role in maintaining high levels of addiction to tobacco.

Note: The Health Power Section on “Smoking and Health”, and our 5 “Quit Smoking and Win Tip Sheets” provide important additional information related to smoking. Click at the bottom of this page to find them.

Section 2 of Pathways to Freedom – Tips for Smokers Who Want to Quit Smoking

Helpful tips for smokers who want to quit include:

– First, identify the triggers or urges that make you smoke, and avoid them. For example, a person may smoke when they are upset, watching TV, playing cards, reading a book or drinking an alcoholic beverage. Make a list of your triggers and remove objects from around you such as ashtrays and matches that remind you of smoking.

– Second, with the advice of a doctor, you can use pharmaceutical aids that help relieve the aches from withdrawal.

– Third, you can seek counseling, join a class or support group, or call a telephone Quitline (1-800-Quitline).

– Fourth, set a quit day and make special preparations the night before you begin to quit;

– Fifth, always remember that you are not alone. Seek the help of family and friends; or seek prayer to give you strength.

– Sixth, remember the five D’s:

Drink a lot of water,

Deep breathing,

Do something else,

Discuss with friends and family, and

Delay when you have the urge to pick up a cigarette. The urge to smoke will pass in 3 to 5 minutes.

– Seventh, watch what you eat to avoid gaining weight, and exercise to relieve the stress and help with the weight.

– Eighth, if you begin smoking again, make a new commitment to try again. Most people who succeed in quitting don’t succeed on the first try.

Section 3 of Pathways to Freedom – What the Community Can Do

The third section of Pathways to Freedom focuses on what the Community can do to achieve a smoke-free society. In essence, the Community must:

(1) Teach,

(2) Organize and

(3) Take action.

All three are very difficult to do because the Number One Enemy is the tobacco industry, and they have millions of dollars invested in (a) creating new smokers, and (b) keeping those who already smoke, smoking.

Successful Community Action Examples From Which to Learn:

Uptown, X, and other campaigns that specifically went after emerging menthol brands being pushed by the tobacco industry.

It Takes a Village: pastors, leaders, parents and children all joined together in the struggle. In this way the Black Community put a lie to what was said by RJ Reynolds, namely: “Health is a more active concern among Blacks than Whites…Fortunately, for this industry, this health concern does not translate strongly to anti-smoking attitudes….”

10 Recommended Community Actions:

(1) Join with others to stop the sale of tobacco,

(2) Meet with store owners and ask them to remove tobacco products,

(3) Make sure schools are teaching about the dangers of smoking,

(4) Hold programs in faith based institutions,

(5) Advocate and/or work with employers and union leaders to create smoke-free regulations,

(6) Ask health clinics and professionals to provide low cost cessation programs,

(7) Help community groups say “no” to tobacco money,

(8) Support efforts to increase tobacco excise taxes,

(9) Urge elected officials to pass strong legislation (clean indoor/outdoor), and [left justify this line]

(10) Share copies of Pathways to Freedom with friends, neighbors and family members.

History of Pathways to Freedom

Pathways to Freedom was first developed at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA with a grant from the National Cancer Institute in 1989. It was the first tobacco cessation guide in the nation developed with African American leadership for the Black Community. In 1993, with the appointment of Dr. Robert Robinson as Associate Director for the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Pathways to Freedom was adopted as the material of choice for Black smokers and the foundation for national distribution was put in place. Individuals and agencies can contact CDC for free copies of Pathways to Freedom. In 2003, Pathways to Freedom was revised by OSH, making possible the inclusion of menthol, a more in-depth treatment of pharmaceutical treatments, and attention to relapse prevention. Dr. Robinson is also a Health Power Editor.

In 2011, the National Cancer Institute provided Dr. Monica Webb Hooper at the University of Miami with a research grant to develop a Pathways to Freedom DVD. Questions regarding its distribution can be addressed to Dr. Webb at 305/284-4290.

Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!®

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