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New Health Justice in Tobacco Control Guide Released

A new publication from the Center for Black Health and Equity, the Health Justice Guide offers a wealth of resources on understanding tobacco use in African Americans and a community model approach to addressing the health disparities it has created

“Health equity is the ultimate form of patient-centered care. Ignoring the role of race and racism keeps the status quo in place and reinforces race-based social inequity.”

The Center for Black Health and Equity (CBHE) recently released its Health Justice in Tobacco Control Guide, which explores the complex history of racism in America and complicated relationship between tobacco and Black Americans. The guide presents the Conceptual Model of Community as a comprehensive tool to empower communities to fix the health disparities created by tobacco use.

The CDC reports that African Americans are more likely than white Americans to die from smoking-related diseases, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes and start smoking at a later age. This is no coincidence, explained Sterling Fulton, the guide’s lead author and Evaluation Director for CBHE.

Sterling Fulton, author of the Health Justice in Tobacco Control Guide and TTS presenter

“African Americans were targeted by Big Tobacco from the start and continue to be targets today.”

A previous speaker with the Duke-UNC Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training Program, Sterling brings a wealth of experience to this guide, pulling from more than two decades of work in health care, including years spent in public health and tobacco prevention and control.

The guide was a labor of love that began several years ago as a way to find solutions to complicated problems.

“It was very important to me to portray the African-American experience from the position of strength,” said Sterling, who worked closely with Dr. Robert Robinson, author of the Community Development Model, when creating this guide.

Her big takeaway for our TTS community: Make sure community is at the table when looking at passing or changing community policy.

“Ask them to share their experiences in their voice,” she said. “Understanding history, context, culture, and geography in your approach to tobacco treatment will make your job easier.”

Each chapter ends with journaling prompts meant to encourage reflection.

"Don’t stop any thoughts just because they may be ‘unacceptable.’ Follow it through. Explore what are the roots. Allow yourself to really reflect. It’s that journey of discovery that actually bridges gaps.” - Sterling Fulton

When she started working on the guide, Sterling had no idea that tobacco and slavery in America were so intertwined. She has come to see tobacco cessation efforts as an extension of work towards health equity.

“People of low income and African Americans disproportionally suffer from tobacco. It would put a huge dent [into the health disparities of these communities] if smoking didn’t exist.”

This incredibly thought-provoking and powerful guide is a must-read for tobacco treatment providers, community leaders, and tobacco control advocates. Download the guide for free from

The CBHE also has a toolkit to help tobacco treatment specialists and other providers engage African Americans who use tobacco products in smoking cessation.

Click here to register today for our upcoming comprehensive Duke-UNC Tobacco Treatment Specialist Training March 28-April 5 to hear from more great speakers like Sterling Fulton.


About the Author

Rachael Joyner is a family nurse practitioner with the Duke Smoking Cessation Program. She holds a National Certificate in Tobacco Treatment Practice and received her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Florida. She loves working collaboratively with patients to help them become tobacco free.


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