New Tool to Combat Tobacco Use Problems in Hispanic Community

New Tool to Combat Tobacco Use Problems in Hispanic Community

American Legacy Foundation(R) Funds Program to Educate and Provide Resources


WASHINGTON, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 17, 2005–The Hispanic community now has a new tool in the fight against tobacco use. Baltimore-based Persephone Productions has produced and aired a program addressing tobacco control issues pertaining to the Hispanic community. A video of the program, called Latinas and Smoking, is now available for community groups to educate people about the toll tobacco takes on Latinas. Groups or organizations interested in using the video as part of their outreach efforts can visit To The Contrary’s Web site, to purchase a tape.

In October of 2001, the American Legacy Foundation provided a $396,000 grant to Persephone Productions for the creation of a series of priority population videos, including Latinas and Smoking. The program was part of a series that aired on PBS’ To The Contrary over the past three years – reaching nearly one million viewers across the country.

Studies show that 23 percent of Hispanic males and 11 percent of Hispanic females smoke. Although these rates are lower than most other ethnic groups, smoking is still a major cause of death within this community. Latinas and Smoking took a special look at tobacco’s effects on girls, women, and pregnancy. The piece featured several Latino-targeted tobacco education programs across the country in addition to an eight-minute panel discussion with several prominent Latino leaders such as Patricia Sosa, the Director of Constituency Relations for Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and María Echaveste, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for President Clinton.

Since the American Legacy Foundation grant was given, Persephone Productions has produced two separate programs each year designed to reach a different racial or ethnic community each program has an accompanying VHS video for community use. The pilot year focused on the African-American and the American Indian and Alaska Native communities; the second year focused on the Hispanic/Latino and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender communities; and the third year focused on the Asian American/Pacific Islander and the Low Socio-Economic Status communities. Each program featured prominent expert spokespeople who were influential in each of the specific population groups. Highlights from the African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American programs can be found at

“Persephone Productions made a priority of telling the stories about tobacco use and prevention in each of these communities,” said Persephone president, Cari Stein. “The information provided in the series can serve as a teaching tool for community groups hoping to reach very specific populations.”

These programs allowed the foundation to communicate tobacco prevention messages to diverse populations through culturally appropriate programs. Each program aired on 240 stations nationwide and was viewed by more than 100,000 people. The foundation continues to receive requests for copies of the videos from numerous health departments, health educators, smoke-free coalitions, national leadership groups, high schools, colleges and universities, nurses associations, call centers for smoking cessation, medical centers, media outlets, social workers, churches, grantees and community leaders across the country. In addition, 600 outreach kits were distributed by Persephone Productions to small and large groups, including doctors, nurses and social workers.

“The American Legacy Foundation recognized the power of Persephone Productions and To the Contrary’s ability to communicate important issues,” said foundation President and CEO Cheryl Healton, Dr. PH. “We hope to make information about tobacco available to as many people as possible and we’re excited about the potential these videos have as they are distributed in communities across the country.”

In 2003, the American Legacy Foundation received what is likely its final payment from the National Public Education Fund established by the Master Settlement Agreement, meaning a sharp decline in the foundation’s funding resources. Without funding from the American Legacy Foundation, community-based grant initiatives like Persephone Productions, which work on tobacco prevention and cessation at the grassroots level, will be in jeopardy. Many of these initiatives service underserved communities: low-income Americans, the less educated, and members of racial and ethnic minority groups. The foundation’s financial situation not only impacts grantmaking, but also signature programs such as the highly successful truth(R) youth smoking prevention campaign, which has been cited as an important factor in declines in youth smoking between 2000-2002.

The American Legacy Foundation(R) is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, D.C., the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use through grants, technical assistance and training, youth activism, strategic partnerships, counter-marketing and grassroots marketing campaigns, public relations, and outreach to populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco. The foundation’s national programs include Circle of Friends(R), Great Start(R), a Priority Populations Initiative, Streetheory(R) and truth(R). The American Legacy Foundation was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states, five US territories, and the tobacco industry. Visit


Latinas and Smoking originally aired on To The Contrary on April 18, 2003 (Program # 1205). To order a tape of the program for $19.95, please call Federal News Service at 1-888-343-1940.



Becky Steinmark

(202) 454-5561


Susan Bringas

(213) 239-6555

New Tool to Combat Tobacco Use Problems in Hispanic Community