Tobacco-Free/Substance-Free Event for Native Youth

Liz Brown Indian Center: Youth Suicide Prevention Program

Liz Brown specializes in youth suicide prevention within the Indian Center Inc.  As an advocate, she helps the youth she serves find healthier alternatives when dealing with overwhelming amounts of stress. The challenges in her work have made her realize that there is a great need in the Native American community to have open discussions about health risk behaviors.  She explains that seeking help is a serious stigma in her community. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), social determinants of health are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. “These circumstances,” the WHO explains, “are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at a global, national and local level.”

Dapice et al, explains that the effects of social determinants of health for Native Americans have greatly resulted from European conquest.  The conquest created great displacement and death among Native people; pre-Columbian culture and diet clashed with European floured grain and alcohol, creating allergic and predisposed physiological responses; and past and present US policy has restricted Native Americans into great poverty and oppression. Dapice el al adds that accidents, homicide, and suicide are killing Native children and youth in larger numbers than any other racial group. Later in life, heart disease, chronic liver disease/cirrhosis, and diabetes kill Native adults in larger numbers than any other groups. Physiologically and socially, the causes of death for Native Americans are mostly related to alcoholism, smoking, and other addictions such as toxic foods.

For these many reasons, Native Americans are greatly disadvantaged and exposed to added stressors.  These disadvantages have created a gap in health equality for Native American people where many health issues have remained unresolved, thus allowing the disparity gap to widen. When Liz explains the stigma she experiences from her clients, she is describing post-traumatic stress disorder that is suffered through a whole community. After so many centuries of oppression and therein depression, Native people may continue to “re-experience trauma” and numb themselves to their disparities.  The stigma and stress grows, and more premature deaths occur.

Liz wants to make a difference in her community, just like other partners who she’s collaborated with. Recently, she fantasized having a prevention kick off for youth. A rally Publication2that will serve as a festival of health information accessible to youth to prepare for a safe summer. Since  health behaviors are learned and our ancestors and relatives are our best teachers, she wanted to include their families as well. Together with Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition and Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition, Liz is planning an event full of  protective ways to respond when temptations are creeping by.

The event will be held outdoors at Hanscom Park in Omaha on Thursday June 12th from 4.30pm-8.30pm. The day is fast approaching!

The event will be [of course] tobacco free/substance free. There will be cultural celebration, elders will share their music, and families will share their food during a community potluck. Kids will have the chance to visit with different vendors to learn more about keeping safe  and have a chance to win prizes like zoo passes and theater passes to keep busy and active this summer. If you know a native youth, be a positive role model in their life and bring him/her to this youth rally called “The Good Life in My Moccasins.”

For more details and to join our Facebook page, please visit:

To learn more about smoking and tobacco please view a local short documentary made here in Nebraska:

Dapice, A.N., Inkanish, C., Martin, B., Brauchi, P. (2002). Killing us slowly: When we can’t fight and we can’t run. Related Issues: Native American Health Issues and IHS. World Heath Organization. (2012). Social determinants of health.

Partners for Health: A Grassroots Effort to Reduce Tobacco Use in Nebraska

Cindy Jeffrey

Cindy Jeffrey

In Nebraska, collaboration is key to success. And for reducing tobacco use in Nebraska, partnering of local and state organizations has brought great success for the health of Nebraskans. You have experienced the success of that partnership – if you’ve ever entered a restaurant or any business and breathe in clean, yes, that clean air free of smoke. Advocating for and maintaining policies, programs and laws like the Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act are one of the successes of the effort that helps build healthy tobacco-free communities in our state.
Tobacco control has risen and attained more support from academic research in the recent past. The last 50 years of the US Surgeon’s general report has helped gather consistent long-term proof of health disparities caused by tobacco. According to the Surgeon General’s 2014 report, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the US, where 41,000 deaths are a result of secondhand smoke exposure. A threat to our society right now is that if smoking persists at the current rate among youth in the US, 5.6 million of our youth younger than 18 years of age are estimated to die from smoking related illness.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recognizes that tobacco use costs our country billions of dollars each year in direct medical care and lost in productivity. For this reason, the CDC makes recommendations for state efforts in tobacco control. With money from tobacco industry legal settlements and tobacco excise taxes, states have funding available to exercise research proven strategies against tobacco use.
The CDC estimates that this 2014 fiscal year, states will collect $25.7 billion, but will only spend 1.9% of it on prevention and cessation programs. CDC recommended funding levels, meant to effectively reduce tobacco use in every state, is never met. This fact is unfortunate and a reality that members like Matt Prokop of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Cindy Jeffrey of Health Education Inc. are trying to change in the state of Nebraska with other partners through the Creating a Movement state effort.

Matt Prokop

Matt Prokop

Organizations like the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, Health Education Inc., and local agencies have gathered to build robust, sustainable efforts to reduce tobacco use that can closer meet recommendations from the CDC.

Their approach? The partners follow a 3 legged stool approach, as Matt Prokop put it, to combat tobacco; an approach that matches CDC and the World Health Organization strategy recommendations. The strategies include monitoring and advocating for comprehensive smoke free laws, reaching CDC recommended funding levels, and fighting for appropriate tobacco tax levels. Sadly, Nebraska falls 38th in the nation when it comes to implementing tobacco tax and has been in an uphill battle for the movement in tobacco tax increase to gain support.

As Athena mentioned in an earlier blog, the national tobacco tax average is $1.53 per pack, Nebraska’s tax is at a dim $.64 per pack.
One goal that Creating a Movement hopes to push, through policy education, is gaining support to match our neighbor’s Iowa tobacco tax of $1.36. This change, although not an ideal rate, would at least get us closer to an appropriate tax level. Increasing tobacco tax, across the country, has proven to reduce resident’s tobacco use, therefore saving lives and reducing medical and loss of productivity to the state.

Nebraska’s partners hope to reach their goals by engaging the media, putting out messages that counter the tobacco industry’s influence; mobilizing community champions and local spokespeople that can support and build personal connections to the problem; and communicating with legislators to educate on tobacco health disparities to build a case for reform.

Finally, at the heart of the effort are partnerships that represent diverse agencies working on the grassroots level. The movement serves as an open line of communication with the tobacco control community and in pooling resources to utilize best practices for saving lives in Nebraska.

If you’d like to download a report on the toll of tobacco in Nebraska, and receive regular news updates on tobacco issues around the country.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 63(21), 1-20. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking-50 years of progress: A report of the surgeon general. Retrieved from

LTC at NAP’s Condom Fashion Show

LTC in redThis Thursday, June 27th, 2013 at the Magnolia Hotel in downtown Omaha, Latinas, Tabaco, y Cáncer will be participating in the Project Condom Fashion Show

The Project Condom Fashion Show is an entertaining and educational event featuring fashion designs made with condoms to promote safer sex and HIV awareness. The Project Condom Fashion Show is a benefit that aims to raise funds towards Nebraska AIDS Project’s client services and education programs.

Latinas, Tabaco, y Cáncer (LTC) is a community-based holistic health promotion program fighting tobacco, preventing cancer, and supporting mental well-being through education, social support, and advocacy. The group’s goals are to: (1) Increase personal and family healthy decision-making; (2) Increase community capacity for positive social change; and (3) Increase overall well-being by promoting healthy lifestyles as individual women, wives, mothers, and engaged community members. LTC is led by the UNMC Center for Reducing Health Disparities’ Triple A team: Athena Ramos, Antonia Correa, and Ariss Rogel Mendoza, and is supported by the Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC).

LTC’s decision to participate in the Condom Fashion Show stems from the women’s dedication to educate about tobacco awareness; it recognizes that the LGBT community has extreme rates of tobacco use and wants to do what it can to build awareness as a means to prevent use. In the LGBT community smoking rates are almost 70% higher than the general population. And for this reason LTC members have come together with the help of volunteers in the community, which include: Designer- Eddiy Hilliard, a community nonprofit volunteer and professional hairstylist at 1Drakeplace; Model- Tygra Slarri, this year’s Smokeless Diva and full advocate for tobacco free lifestyles and environments; Volunteer-Dustin Moorehead, event designer and co-owner of Creating Atmosphere; and Volunteer- Joao de Brito a community activist and advocate for social equality and diversity.

We are excited to introduce our design in the Project Condom Fashion Show which is set out to entertain and educate. In the same fashion, LTC and MOTAC want to educate about the dangers that tobacco causes to not just our health, but also our environment. We are particularly building awareness on the damage that our Omaha Parks endure with harmful cigarette litter, the most littered item on the planet, and the role modeling that this adult habit causes to influence youth attitudes towards socially accepting tobacco use.

Smokeless Diva will appear on the runway as a tree, representing our park’s mother nature. As she comes down she will look lively and vibrant, but at closer inspection you will see the dark side that our mother nature experiences by the litter and damage that tobacco causes her.

To have a real visual, we hope you can make it out on Thursday night at the Magnolia Hotel, located downtown at 1615 Howard Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102.

Following are entry details:

$15 – General Admission
$35 – Reserved Seating
$100 – VIP Pass – includes cocktails and hors d’oeurves during the event!

Doors open at 6:30p
Show starts at 7:30p

To view examples of what this event is like, please check out VIDEOS and PICTURES from past shows!!

We hope you can come support us!