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e - n e w sletter


Spring is upon us. The trees, shrubs and flowers are in full bloom, and so are the activities inside and around our organization. The FDA Scientific Advisory Committee has had its first two-day meeting – with a focus on what is currently known and should be asked about menthol. New “Elders” have now joined our circle of advisors. And, plans are well underway for our 10th Anniversary celebration in June. This year our organization is focused on building new capacities by continuing to diversify our funding, expanding our national partnerships, assisting in building new infrastructures in communities, and growing new affiliates in as many states as possible. We will be actively engaging communities that have received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding and need assistance with reaching into Black communities with community competent programming. We are committed to expanding our CDC National Network activities by both expanding the capabilities of our partners to more effectively communicate with each other, and seizing every available opportunity to work with the other National Networks on issues that cut across all of our constituents. We will be developing new and very innovative ways to bring and keep tobacco control in communities that are suffering from an evaporating pool of resources. And, we will be monitoring the activities of FDA with regard to menthol very closely. Know that our involvement in the RICO case against the tobacco industry could result in an argument before the Supreme Court!

a message from the

Executive Director

Please get your nominations in for our two national awards, as the deadline is approaching rapidly. One award is for someone that has done stellar work and/or research from a large institutional, agency or organizational base, while the other is focused on a communitybased advocate that embodies the award’s namesake. Details about the awards and the nomination process can be found at our website ( As we embark upon another year of work, we do so fueled by the inspiration of those who are new to the struggle, like a female bus driver from a suburb of Seattle in Washington State. This woman saw one of our ‘spoof ’ cards at an African American heritage festival in Baltimore, Maryland last year and took one back to Washington with her. She has copied the card over many times and been handing them out to passengers, especially younger ones, who she watches douse their butts prior to boarding the bus – many times exhaling inside her vehicle to her complete disgust. A month ago, she began calling. First, to get additional cards, then to inform us that her mother died from matastisized lung cancer that was only discovered when she was being treated for injuries from a car accident. She is now working with us to establish a local coalition of community folk that will focus on reducing tobacco’s impact in her small town, and do so in her mother’s honor. So, when young people ask me why I’ve been doing this for 29 years now, I will add Ms. Alexander’s story to the chronology of stories that began in 1981 with my Dad.

Asante` Sana!

(Thank You!)…Ms. Alexander for keeping my flame lit for this important work!

Rene Hicks

was born and raised in San Francisco, CA under the strict and watchful eye of her Pentecostal preacher dad, who insisted that she went to college. After earning a business degree, Hicks worked for one of largest accounting firms. But after a night out with friends at local comedy club and on a dare sweetened by $100, she got on stage to do an unrehearsed routine. Less than a year later, she left the number crunching world and began a successful career in comedy. As a comedy veteran, Rene has performed her appealing humor in countless clubs across the US and internationally, resulting in her having been the first African American woman ever nominated for an American Comedy Award for “Best Female StandUp”. She has appeared on several television shows, including her own half hour special –“Comedy Central Presents…Rene Hicks”. In addition, Rene has performed or lectured at over 650 colleges and universities throughout the US. She is a two-time recipient of the coveted National College Comedian of the Year Award. Making a move from accounting to comedy was a sound business decision for Rene, as being funny is

one of her greatest assets. She is passionate about giving back to the community and volunteering with various organizations. “ I know that GOD has blessed me with so much, that it’s my duty to in turn give to others”, Rene explains. His blessings were never more apparent than when Rene overcame lung cancer. She never smoked a day in her life but she knew her disease had a greater purpose—to strengthen and heal her as well as others through laughter. In the world of comedy, the highest level of praise and accolades from the audience is “you killed”. This high form of praise was often heaped upon Rene who now marvels at the irony that while she was “killing” in all those smoke-filled venues, the second-hand smoke almost killed her. Rene could not have perceived the odds of a health conscious, energetic, former collegiate distance runner, thirty-something nonsmoking woman being diagnosed with lung cancer. Rene has used her gift of humor to become a vocal and effective advocate for the prevention of tobacco use and for generating greater public awareness of the health related dangers from secondhand smoke exposure especially in children. Her famous TV ads, “Secondhand Smoke is No Joke” was awarded the prestigious Telly Award. You don’t want to miss Rene at NAATPN’s 10th Anniversary Celebration June 3-4, 2010 in Durham, NC to register for the events, log onto For information about Rene Hicks, please go to her website:

ASPIRE A online tobacco cessation tool targeting urban teens

by Katrina Burton

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center | Communications, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences

On average, African-Americans have the highest mortality rate of any ethnic group for most major cancers and for all cancers combined. In fact, the mortality rate for all major causes of death is higher for African-Americans than any other racial or ethnic group. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 150,000 new cancer cases for this population group are expected to be diagnosed this year alone. Among the many online smoking-cessation products, materials and information, none is as unique as the tobacco-cessation web program, ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience) developed by Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., behavioral scientist at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The teen-focused Web site uses video-game like components, contemporary graphics and animation complete with streaming video to educate and provide prevention and intervention tips to teens on smoking. Research shows smoking and the use of tobacco products typically starts at a young age and contributes greatly to the risk of developing cancer. Through ASPIRE, urban teens and adults have an opportunity to learn more about the many harmful effects of tobacco, learn how to help educate their peers and learn how to prevent from becoming a cancer statistic. Besides cool graphics and an interactive experience, ASPIRE also offers real testimonies from peers, doctors, current smokers and

non-smokers. It includes health information, tips and resources, as well as intervention methods for those wanting to quit or wanting to encourage someone else to quit. There are several educational modules available to the user, whether they are a smoker or nonsmoker. An expert on the subject of teen nicotine dependence and the effects of tobacco use on teen health, Dr. Prokhorov initiated a trial of ASPIRE with 1,608 students in 16 urban high schools. In 2007, after the first trial, M. D. Anderson launched a national ASPIRE campaign in an effort to curb teenage smoking. The e-campaign targeted 97 school districts in 32 states in North America. The success of ASPIRE has solidified partnerships with many schools and tobacco-related organizations, including Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, an organization that sponsors National Kick Butts Day. Today, ASPIRE participation has included 17 states and nearly 5,000 students, and is currently available at no cost to facilitators or students nationwide. Anyone can access a sample of the program curriculum by visiting aspire. ASPIRE is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research. For more information about ASPIRE or to learn how your organization can use the program, please contact Lauren McCoy with M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at 713-745-3817.



On Feburary 26, 2010, we welcomed three new members to the Circle of Elders. The Circle of Elders is the organization’s Advisory Board which is a permanent body that ensures the original mission is maintained throughout the organization’s history. Circle members include the organization’s founding members, and a select group of others that have been added after demonstrating longterm commitment, leadership and sound judgement in Black tobacco control.

This year we are honored to have Dr. Valerie Yerger from San Francisco, California, Mr. Delmonte Jefferson from Atlanta, Georgia, and Reverend Jesse Brown from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania join our Elder group. Dr. Yerger is an outstanding researcher who has published articles over the years about menthol, including its association with levels of melanin in the skin. Mr. Jefferson has worked in North Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana

in tobacco control beginning at the grassroots level, and now as a consultant at the state and national levels. Reverend Jesse Brown is considered one of the pillars of Black tobacco control, as he was involved with the community coalition that shut down the Phillip Morris test-marking of Uptown cigarettes in less than two weeks, coordinated World No Tobacco Day events across the U.S. for more than 10 years, held funeral marches for Joe Camel, and filed the first lawsuit against the tobacco industry for metholated tobacco products. Each was recognized for their accomplishments by the current Circle members, and were officially inducted via a collective reading of NAATPN’s “Elder’s Oath of Commitment”. We welcome all our new Elders, and have already been enriched by their pressence.



National African American Tobacco Prevention Network 400 West Main Street Suite 415 Durham, NC 27701 T 919-680-4000 F 919-680-4004 1-888-7NAATPN

William S. Robinson, MA Executive Director Durham, NC

Latia White Administrative Assistant Durham, NC

Alisha Simmons Director of Finance Summerville, SC

Alene Bynum Director of Special Projects Charlotte, NC

La Tanisha Wright National States Director Irving, TX

Kara Endsley Communications Consultant Raleigh, NC


The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network is a non-profit organization launched in 1999. NAATPN’s Technical Assistance and Training program speaks to the very heart of tradition and culture and strives to provide the organizational development, grassroots organizing, and tobacco advocacy expertise necessary to take on tobacco challenges for communities of color.


To serve as a national organization dedicated to facilitating the development and implementation of comprehensive and community competent tobacco control programs to benefit communities and people of African descent.

NAATPN’S “Village” Membership and “Fun”-Raising

Are you interested in doing even more to help our communities be as healthy as they can be? NAATPN has been introduced membership levels and benefits based on the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Membership in NAATPN is a great way to support tobacco control; and join the fight against the deceptive tactics of the tobacco industry. We invite you to become an active part of “the village” and choose the membership level that fits you. Also, check out our “Dancing for Dollars” campaign. We’re asking for one dollar from every person to help fund tobacco education, prevention, and cessation programs. For more information on becoming a member of NAATPN, visit our website at or call 1-888-7NAATPN for more information.

Insight Newsletter, Spring 2010  

Spring issue of the NAATPN Newsletter

Insight Newsletter, Spring 2010  

Spring issue of the NAATPN Newsletter