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Recommendations to advance equity in tobacco control


Reducing racial and socioeconomic inequities in smoking has been declared a priority for tobacco control in the USA for several decades. Yet despite the rhetoric, these inequities persist and some have actually worsened over time. Although tobacco companies have targeted racially and ethnically diverse and lower-income tobacco users, which substantially contributes to these disparities, less attention has been given to the role of individuals and organisations within the tobacco control movement who have allowed progress in eliminating disparities to stagnate. We examine the failure of tobacco control professionals to ensure the widespread adoption of equity-focused tobacco control strategies. Review of major US tobacco control reports found that the focus on equity often stops after describing inequities in tobacco use. We suggest ways to advance equity in tobacco control in the USA. These recommendations fall across five categories: surveillance, interventions, funding, accountability and addressing root causes. Policy interventions that will have a pro-equity impact on smoking and related disease should be prioritised. Funding should be designated to tobacco control activities focused on eliminating racial and socioeconomic inequities in smoking, and tobacco control programmes should be held accountable for meeting equity-related goals.

  • Disparities
  • Priority/special populations
  • Public policy

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