Community Message: Honoring Dr. King by Working to End Tobacco Disparities

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Monday, January 17 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s a time to honor the legacy and accomplishments of the civil rights champion taking action to help create the beloved community of Dr. King’s dream. To help carry on his legacy, the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network’s Smoke-Free Housing and COVID Task Force has worked to end tobacco-related disparities in Wisconsin, especially among residents of color.

This population, among others, has experienced higher levels of racism, discrimination, targeted marketing from the tobacco industry, and stress escalating to negatively impact their social and physical environment and, therefore, on its health outcomes. The impact of COVID-19 has compounded these inequalities.

These injustices are what drive our subcommittee to action by supporting residents, sharing information on industry tactics, COVID-related risks for smokers, and how to access free help to quit smoking by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. We also strive to share information about the harms of menthol tobacco, which has targeted African American communities for decades. Menthol tobacco is easier to start and harder to quit, leading advocates both locally and nationally to call for an end to menthol sales in the United States.

I have never had a tobacco addiction. But, I have many relatives who are current tobacco users. Some of them quit. My uncle quit, but it was too late and he still died of cancer. I did a family tree and most men were tobacco users and it’s sad and as far as I know everyone started using tobacco products at a young age. That’s part of the reason I got involved.

Although our movement has grown, we still need your help to share our messages and move towards a healthier and more equitable future for all. To join our working group or to support our movement, visit us on To learn more about how tobacco is changing, visit

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