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Youth-led Tobacco Prevention among CA Southeast Asians

Institution: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Investigator(s): Juliet Lee,
Award Cycle: 2009 (Cycle 18) Grant #: 18BT-0044 Award: $157,495
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Pilot CARA

Initial Award Abstract
Researchers have found that as many as 35-70% of U.S. Southeast Asians smoke, which is far more than the rate for Americans overall, yet there are few programs for tobacco prevention among these populations. California is home to the largest populations of Southeast Asians in the U.S., and these groups have been shown to have the highest rates of poverty and among the lowest levels of education in the state, two conditions which are associated with cigarette smoking, including for Asian Americans. In our recent study of tobacco use among two generations of Southeast Asians we found that cigarette smoking was considered an aspect of being a man and very common, but also increasingly common among young women and girls. While most people were aware of state tobacco control policies, many said that some policies, particularly school smoking restrictions and laws prohibiting sales to minors, were ineffective, and that youths under age 18 who are not legally of age to buy tobacco products nevertheless had easy access to cigarettes from friends as well as from stores.

Recent studies have found that for tobacco programs aimed at youth, the active participation of youth greatly improves the effectiveness of the program. A relatively new model for tobacco prevention programs is youth-led prevention. In these programs youths are viewed less as the objects of the program and more as active participants in designing and conducting the work. This means that youths can design programs that they feel meet the needs and circumstances of their own communities, racial/ethnic groups, age groups and socio-economic situations. Because participation in these programs builds self-esteem and gives youths a sense of accomplishment, youth-led programs may also reduce the reasons that many low-income and ethnic minority youths smoke cigarettes. It is also helpful to work with youths who already have some experience in youth leadership to bring to tobacco prevention.

We therefore propose to work with a Southeast Asian youth leadership group to design a program of tobacco prevention for their Southeast Asian community. In the first year of this pilot study we propose to develop and implement a program of tobacco education and prevention research to be conducted with the thriving Southeast Asian Young Leaders (SEAYL) group of West Contra Costa County (WCCC) of the East San Francisco Bay Area, and with a group of young adult Southeast Asians from the same community in the second year of this project. The SEAYL group is primarily composed of at-risk Southeast Asian youth and is a project of Asian Pacific Psychological Services (APPS), the community partner in the proposed collaboration. With the academic partner Prevention Research Center (PRC), APPS will develop a series of trainings and exercises through which the youth and young adult groups will develop their understandings of tobacco, their community and tobacco prevention in order to design a program to increase awareness of tobacco in the community and prevent tobacco use among Southeast Asian youth and adults.

Specifically, we aim to: 1. Develop a training series utilizing guest speakers with expertise in three primary areas: (a) Southeast Asians in California: past, present and future; (b) tobacco use in the Southeast Asian community; and (c) organizing for change.

2. Direct a series of youth research studies on tobacco in the community to be conducted by the youths and young adults corresponding to the three training modules. We also propose to conduct a tobacco survey to be developed and fielded by the youth with the goal of obtaining data from 100 Southeast Asians in West Contra Costa County about tobacco use and tobacco influences in their communities.

3. Design a program of community-based intervention, based on their training and research, to reduce tobacco availability in their community and prevent tobacco use among Southeast Asian youth and adults. The program will be designed by the youth and young adult groups, tailored to the cultural needs of the Southeast Asian community, and will form the basis for a proposal for a full CARA.