The No. 1 threat to African Americans is not HIV/AIDS, murder, or drug and alcohol abuse–it’s smoking. According to Pathways to Freedom: Winning the Fight Against Tobacco, a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking-related complications are responsible for 63% of African American deaths per year.
But smoking does more than jeopardize the health of African Americans. It could also cost black students a college education, the study points out.
The report reveals that blacks spend enough on cigarettes each year to purchase a new computer or make a down payment on a new car. In addition, the amount that African American smokers spend on cigarettes in one day could finance a year’s college tuition for more than 2,500 students.
According to the report’s co-author, Dr. Robert G. Robinson, the tuition statistic was meant to help frame the cost of smoking both literally and through an image identifiable to the black community.
“If the community does not focus on advocacy against the tobacco industry and building programs to support quitting, then it is not likely that hard-won victories will be maintained.”
Through education as well as family and community involvement, Robinson hopes the guide will facilitate the cessation of smoking amongst blacks because, “The tobacco industry never sleeps, they are never out of money, and never lapse with respect to their priorities. They sincerely want African Americans to smoke.”