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Achieving health equity in tobacco control

Tobacco use is not an equal opportunity killer. Smoking disproportionately affects the poor, homeless people, racial minorities, LGBT persons and those suffering from mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

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Truth Initiative is one of a consortium of public health partners who came together following the release of the 50th anniversary report on the health consequences of smoking by the U.S. Surgeon General. Together, these partners aim to raise awareness that smoking and tobacco use, and therefore disease, affects certain, specific populations within the U.S. differently – with some suffering disproportionately from the tobacco epidemic.

In order to make health equity in tobacco control a priority and spur commitments to action that accrue tobacco success to all people and communities and create parity of the health benefits, the partners adopted bold and challenging goals:

  • Reduce rates of smoking and other tobacco use to less than 10 percent for all communities by 2024.
  • Protect everyone from second-hand smoke by 2019.
  • Eliminate death and disease caused by tobacco use for all people.

Eliminating tobacco-related disparities can only occur if we collectively advance principles of health equity. Shared ownership and accountability is critical for the success or failure of efforts to incorporate a health equity frame of reference in the quest to eliminate tobacco-related disparities.

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