Yesterday, Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched the first ever comprehensive tobacco control strategic action plan, Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan (PDF) that outlines specific, evidence-based actions that will help create a society free of tobacco-related death and disease.
During a press conference at George Washington University, Dr. Koh and Secretary Sebelius were joined by Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who announced new bolder graphic warning labels for cigarette packages and advertisements. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also issued proposed regulations that would require states to offer free smoking cessation counseling and treatment to Medicaid enrollees who are pregnant.
Tobacco use and HIV/AIDS individually and taken together have tremendous health impacts. Smoking rates of people living with HIV are estimated to be two to three times higher than the national average. There is an increasing body of evidence that smokers living with HIV have an increased mortality rates than HIV postive non-smokers.
"This is especially important for populations that are dually effected, such as communities of color and the LGBT community. We need to make sure that our HIV programs are integrating tobacco cessation activities and we need to make sure that our tobacco cessation programs are integrating with HIV interventions," said Scout, Director of the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network. Stay tuned next week for a video with Scout and Matt Myers, President of the the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids about smoking and LGBT/HIV communities.
What are you doing to address tobacco control in the HIV community?