Information for Physicians

The NMA Initiatives

In March 2007, the NMA published its consensus panel paper, Smoking Cessation in the African American Community, which recommends that the NMA should continue addressing tobacco-related health problems through a program of education, advocacy, policy formation, and research. It calls for the mobilization of the membership to participate in smoking prevention and cessation activities, thereby improving the health of the community and decreasing the disparities in care now found between minority communities and the general public.

Motivating this work has been a body of evidence pointing to the differential impacts of smoking and other tobacco use on the African American community (see “Smoking and African Americans” and “Statistics” on this site, as well as additional resources listed below).

Earlier, the member physicians of the NMA had confronted the problem of smoking in its three-year project “Stop Active Smoking and Take charge” (SASATAC), which among other items called upon African American physicians and other leaders to design and promote health intervention strategies and to participate in policy and decision making activities. This project is further described in the March 2007 report, which updates this call and offers new resources.

Specific consensus panel recommendations include the following points. In general, the NMA physicians should be supported with the appropriate tools and information to encourage smoking cessation among their patients.

The consensus panel encourages NMA physicians to take leadership roles to advocate for tobacco control nationally and internationally.

Provider education. The NMA will develop a distribution plan to disseminate smoking cessation campaign materials to NMA members. The NMA website, with links to other websites, will provide more comprehensive information on tobacco control issues to members, as well as to consumers. The NMA will develop a provider toolkit for members to use in educational efforts and for advocacy of tobacco control issues pertinent to African American communities. The provider toolkit will use the Public Health Service guidelines, modified to be culturally appropriate. These efforts can be expanded through alliances with the National Tobacco Control Program, the American Cancer Society, and the like.

Advocacy. The NMA must reestablish a leadership position in setting the tobacco control agenda, in order to decrease the impact of tobacco-related diseases in African American communities. To this end, it should educate African American physicians to advocate and provide leadership for tobacco control. Physicians with expertise in tobacco control should be encouraged to become members of organizations such as the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids that advocate for smoking cessation among African Americans and become a part of government commissions and committees at federal and state levels. Physicians could also partner with other organizations to advocate for voluntary policies to create smoke-free venues, such as smoke-free college campuses.

Policy. Key members should organize around tobacco settlement issues to ensure that funding is equally allocated to all segments of the African American community, according to the impact of tobacco use on morbidity and mortality.

The NMA should identify “best practices” or models of information distribution from the state level to the membership, in order to mobilize NMA members around the tobacco settlement funding process.

A survey of the NMA membership should be implemented to determine their baseline knowledge. The survey will provide an opportunity to educate members about the laws and regulations governing smoking in work sites, public settings, and homes.

Resources

The following websites offer a wealth of information on smoking cessation for providers and their patients.  Educational materials for use in physician practices as well as in clinics and health centers can be ordered or downloaded, some tailored to the African American community’s needs.  Several sites offer free online smoking cessation programs targeted to the willing patient.

American Legacy Foundation, at www.americanlegacy.org

American Lung Association, at www.ffsonline.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at www.cdc.gov/tobacco

National Cancer Institute, at www.smokefree.gov and http://www.cancer.gov

American Cancer Society, at www.cancer.org

American Heart Association, at www.americanheart.org

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), at www.ahrq.gov