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UC Merced Hosts Tobacco Control Summit

May 21, 2024
AI generated illustration for UC Merced Tobacco Summit
Tobacco is a significant health problem in rural San Joaquin Valley and foothills. (AI-generated illustration)

The community is invited to an all-day summit where researchers will present cutting-edge information on the latest efforts to stem tobacco use in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding foothills.

The Tobacco Control Summit is scheduled for Thursday, June 6 at The Mainzer, 655 W. Main St. in downtown Merced. Capacity is limited so attendees are urged to register by 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 22.

Tobacco is a significant health concern in rural areas of the Valley. The prevalence of cigarette smoking among rural adults in the United States was reported at 28.9% in 2021, notably higher than the general adult population's 11.5%. Smokeless tobacco is also used more extensively than in urban communities.

The summit is co-sponsored by UC Merced’s Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center and Health Sciences Research Institute .

“We will prominently feature community-led tobacco prevention and control initiatives, especially those that involve Latino communities and Native Americans in the San Joaquin Valley and local foothills,” NCPC Director Arturo Durazo said. “We will address environmental justice and plans for a community-driven data dashboard.”

Durazo said the summit underscores NCPC’s commitment to community-engaged scholarship by amplifying the voices of the center’s trainees, including undergraduate students, doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars. The meeting also will highlight innovative work by and insights from emerging tobacco control leaders.

We will prominently feature community-led tobacco prevention and control initiatives, especially those that involve Latino communities and Native Americans in the San Joaquin Valley and local foothills.

Arturo Durazo
Director, Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center

Registration and a continental breakfast for the summit start at 9:30 a.m., followed by the morning session at 10 a.m., lunch at 12:30 p.m. and the afternoon session at 1:30 p.m. A reception will follow at 3:30 p.m.

Sessions will include:

  • Tobacco Control Interns and Research Assistants: Showcasing the experiences of emerging leaders from UC Merced, a group of UC Merced students directly involved in tobacco issues talk about their experiences as emerging leaders in shaping nicotine policy.
  • Research Updates in Tobacco Control: NCPC, along with UC San Francisco researchers with the California Health Collaborative, present the latest from a tobacco cessation pilot study.
  • Integrating Cultural Heritage and Health Strategies: Updates on advancing tobacco-related education, focusing on Native American health support services that take a holistic approach.
  • Environmental Justice and Developing Next Wave of Advocates: Information about efforts in commercial tobacco waste disposal and tobacco companies’ focus on Latino communities.
  • Tobacco Waste Product Surveys: NCPC presents findings from tobacco product waste protocols with citizen scientists, addressing the center’s broader mission to reduce harm from third-hand tobacco smoke.
  • Exploring the Intersection Between Mental Health and Tobacco Use: A discussion of strategies to address mental health challenges associated with tobacco and nicotine dependency.
  • Overcoming Barriers to Policy Implementation: A report on an in-depth study of the complexities of local policymaking and enforcement in the Valley.
  • Launching a San Joaquin Valley-Based Data Dashboard: NCPC, in partnership with a California-based leader in information technology, presents a new tool to visualize tobacco impact and control efforts across the Valley and foothills.
  • Cannabis/Marijuana and Tobacco Intersections: Updates on the proposed federal decision to reclassify (reschedule) cannabis/marijuana as a lower-risk drug and the impacts on health equity.

Durazo said gathering collaborators and partners at the summit to share knowledge will play an important part in the effort to reduce tobacco-related harm. NCPC invites anyone interested in tobacco prevention and control to join the event and contribute to these vital discussions.

Jody Murray

Jody MurrayPublic Information Officer

Office: (559) 259-8504