Tobacco use harms almost every organ in the human body causing many illnesses and overall reducing the health of the user. It is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and deaths in the United States, causing more than 480,000 deaths every year or about 1in 5 deaths (CDC, 2018). Aside from the U.S., the World Health Organization (WHO) (2015) mentioned that tobacco smoking appears to be increasing in other countries, such as the Eastern Mediterranean Region and the African Region. Many factors influence people, young and old, in tobacco use, for example, tobacco use by peers and/or parents, access to tobacco products, tobacco advertisements, and having low self-esteem.
Tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year to advertise and promote their products and have attracted 37.8 million people to smoke cigarettes in 2016 (CDC, 2018). At the same time, tobacco use caused the U.S. more than $300 billion each year in medical care for adult users and exposure to secondhand smoking and death. Figure 1. Current Smoking Among Adults in 2016 (United States).
Adapted from “Current Cigarette Smoking Among Adults in the United States” by CDC, 2018, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Leaders’ Roles in Communities In California, Los Angeles (LA) County is an enormous diverse region with millions of residents. The county includes cities and communities, like La Mirada, that are rich and poor. Communities are different from each other by wealth, opportunities, and environment that affect the health of the residents that lived in them. For example, some communities lived 10 years longer than other communities.
There are places with higher rates of diabetes, heart problems, and cancers than other places. Another disturbing evidence from the County of Los Angeles Public Health (2018) is that Black, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native residents, regardless of which community they live in experience an unfair load of diseases and deaths compared to White and Asian residents. Unfortunately, these differences are tragic because they are preventable. Nowadays, more and more people suffer from preventable diseases that crowded clinics, emergency departments, and hospitals. They added themselves to the health care spending that could have been used to help and treat people who influencer seriously ill. This is why the county leaders, along with its cities and communities, play an important in reducing health issues affecting its people and guaranteeing an equal share of opportunities and resources needed to promote healthy living. In tobacco use, leaders can implement policies and regulations that discourage its consumption in the community and limit stores that sells tobacco products. Community Resources and Enhancements Even with the vast improvement in reducing tobacco use over the past years, still, over one million people in Los Angeles County continue to smoke and 13% of these adults are from La Mirada (County of Los Angeles Public Health, 2018).
To help the Public Health in reducing these numbers, the community played a vital role in support by prohibiting public smoking in areas in the community, such as parks, outdoor dining areas, and some apartment buildings, to reduce secondhand smoking. In addition, to reduce tobacco use in adolescence, stores that sell tobacco products are regulated in areas where adolescent students are present, as well as in high-risk neighborhoods. Strategic Plan To further improve the health of people in the La Mirada community, the reduction of tobacco use by the end of 2020 is the ultimate goal. In the 2016 California Tobacco Facts and Figures, there were 12.2% of tobacco users in LA County but this number decreased to 12% in 2017 (CDHP, 2017). With a great number of strategies already in place, these numbers continue to decrease over the years. Some of these strategies that we continue to use are the elimination of tobacco use by adolescents by regulating the stores that sell tobacco products, where these age groups are highly advised sent. Another strategy is prohibiting public smoking in certain areas in the community to prevent secondhand smoking. Then the state increased taxes on tobacco products last year, in November. California voters passed a measure to increase the cigarette tax by $2 per pack (Daniels, 2017). The higher tax rate is intended to discourage people from tobacco use. According to a health journal by Ratzan (2014), this strategy will reduce the smoking rate to less than 10% within 10 years.
There are countless ways the community can contribute to reducing the number of tobacco use by its residents. Community health programs and classes are scheduled and held in the community’s Activity Center where residents are encouraged to attend and learn more about the harmful effects of tobacco and how it affects the community. One of the programs that take place every Wednesday is called “Ask the Nurse” (City of La Mirada, 2018). It is led by Biola University’s Nursing Department in which their nursing faculty and students are allowed to serve their community and discuss issues of healthy lifestyles. Another effective strategy is encouraging residents in the community to participate in health care screening. Every Thursday, the community holds another health program called “Listening Heart” by Straight Talk Clinic (City of La Mirada, 2018). The wellness center provides a variety of health services that are affordable and available to residents whose access is limited, restricted, or unavailable. They, not only advise smokers to quit smoking but also connect them to appropriate treatments.
This health approach has been proven effective by Rigotti and Kalkhoran (2017) in their health care journal. Conclusion The community and its residents have worked diligently to contribute to reducing tobacco use in the county. Despite the campaigns from the tobacco industry, the community counteracts this advertisement by promoting healthy living and reaching out to residents to stay away from tobacco products. Schools continue to educate their students about the hazardous effects of tobacco and promote a drug-free zone. With all the hard work and dedication, the La Mirada community, along with its residents, continues to offer and provide health programs that support a healthy lifestyle and has been successful throughout these years.