By DR. PAUL Y. SONG
As an Asian American oncologist who lost his own father to cancer, I have been concerned with the overall increasing incidence of cancer in our community. Asian Americans are the only ethnic group for whom cancer is the leading cause of death.
On June 5, Asian American and Pacific Islanders will have an opportunity to stop this killer in our community.
At a time when the United States Congress has begun to drastically reduce National Institute of Health funding for all healthcare research, Prop. 29 will raise badly needed money to fill this gap while also helping to discourage people from smoking, which is still a leading cause of cancer.
Approximately 15,000-20,000 Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders will die every year because of tobacco related illnesses.
More than 17% of all Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults smoke. California smoking rates are as high as 35.9% for Korean men, 32.3% for Pacific Islander men and 24.2% Pacific Islander women. Asian American smoking increases sevenfold from middle to high school; the rate of increase in Asian youth’s smoking is greater than that of any other ethnic group.
Studies have found significantly higher proportions of tobacco ads in ethnic minority communities. For example, Asian American neighborhoods in San Diego had the highest proportion of billboard tobacco advertisements. The tobacco industry typically floods Asian and Pacific Island nations with tobacco products. They also target market in minority communities in the U.S. and to children and teens leading to rapidly rising smoking rates among AA and NHPI populations.
But your vote can prevent more AAPIs from smoking and save lives.
The American Cancer Society, in partnership with the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, Lance Armstrong’s Live Strong Campaign and a number of other anti-cancer groups have sponsored Proposition 29 on the June 5 ballot.
Proposition 29 places a new $1-per-pack tax on tobacco products. California is only 33rd in the nation in taxation of tobacco products. This new tax is only paid only by those who buy tobacco products and it will save 104,000 lives; stop 228,000 kids from smoking; and generate approximately $735 million every year to support life-saving research and tobacco prevention programs.
Prop. 29 will also provide vital funding to make advances in prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related illnesses — 60% will fund cancer and other smoking-related research; 20% will fund tobacco use prevention and help people quit smoking; 15% will pay for facilities and equipment to support cancer research; 3% will help enforce anti-tobacco laws and stop tobacco smuggling; 2% is the maximum amount used for administering the program.
A nine-member committee of California’s leading cancer center directors, University of California chancellors, representatives of disease advocacy organizations and cancer survivors will award all funds. That means the funds from Prop. 29 cannot be used by politicians and or used for other purposes.
Prop. 29 will triple California’s funding to help people stop smoking and make it more difficult for youth to buy tobacco products and start smoking.
Please join the following organizations to support Prop. 29 on June 5:
Asian Americans for Community Involvement
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT)
Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum,
Asian Pacific Islanders California Action Network,
Asian & Pacific Islander Cancer Survivors Network
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON)
Cambodian Senior Nutrition Program
Chinese Community Health Resource Center
Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
Guam Communications Network
Japanese American Citizens League
Korean Resource Center
Koreatown Youth & Community Center
Little Tokyo Service Center
Los Angeles Chinese Chamber of Commerce
National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)
Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA)
Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA)
United Cambodian Community
Vietnamese Elderly Association
Vietnamese REACH for Health Coalition
United Pharmacists Network
Dr. Paul Y. Song is a radiation oncologist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Center. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Rafu Shimpo.