Berkeley’s Black Residents at Greater Risk for Tobacco-Related Diseases
African Americans living in Berkeley are two times more likely than white residents to be diagnosed with cancer, stroke, heart disease or another tobacco-related disease, according to new statistics released Thursday by Berkeley city officials, the Oakland Tribune reports. Dr. Vicki Alexander, director of Berkeley Public Health Department's Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program, said African-American women are 3.7 times more likely to use tobacco products during pregnancy and children younger than 15 years old are five times more likely to seek medical attention at a hospital because of diseases such as asthma. The disparity in Berkeley is wider than that in the rest of California and the United States, Alexandria said.
According to the Tribune, the statistics "mirror the patterns" in the city of other diseases, including obesity. Officials have cited higher rates of secondhand smoke in the presence of black children, higher poverty rates in the black community and more stores in the predominantly black neighborhoods of South and West Berkeley that are willing to sell cigarettes to minors as contributing factors. In response to the statistics, representatives from the Berkeley Department of Health and Human Services Tobacco Prevention Program will attempt to target the city's African-American population by shifting strategies in their anti-secondhand smoke campaign, "Take it Outside" (Wittmeyer, Oakland Tribune, 6/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.