Push for No More Tobacco


From http://www.hhs.gov./

Source: Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2014). Monitoring the Future national survey results on adolescent drug use, 1975-2013: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.

Over the last 40 years, the use of tobacco has steadily decreased due to many enforcement of laws, regulations, government and local support, and established health awareness programs. But the concern is now focused on teens and adults who are still buying and using tobacco in different forms. Once someone has used tobacco, they could eventually or become immediately addicted to nicotine.

So what are the trends of using tobacco besides smoking tobacco:

  • Oral tobacco products that dissolves in the user’s mouth; they still contain tobacco properties that puts the user’s health at risk and they can come in different forms and flavors.
  • Hookah is a mouth piece smoking pipe that is commonly popular among teens and is used among groups where they pass it on to each other. Not only is it not sanitary of bodily fluids, it is technically like smoking a cigarette where the toxins are released and inhaled into the body.
  • Smokeless tobacco is in the form where tobacco can be sniffed and chewed. “For smokeless tobacco use, the highest rates of initiation are in the seventh through 11th grades. Although approximately equal proportions of male and female adolescents smoke cigarettes, users of smokeless tobacco products are nearly all males.” – http://www.hhs.gov/
  • E-cigarette is a cigarette that can be used electronically to vaporized a liquid that gives off the feeling that one is smoking tobacco. Although e-cigarettes has no tobacco, they still contain nicotine.

Sometimes, people don’t understand the consequences of using tobacco. The fact that tobacco was scientifically proven to lead to other cancer diseases and cause the user to have other health related problems is already a concern. We can’t stop the production of tobacco, but at least try to educate the public what tobacco can do to the body.

  • Increases the risk of almost every organ disease such as the mouth, bladder, stomach, lung, heart, kidney, and more.
  • Worsen asthma symptoms
  • Nicotine is scientifically proven to be a addictive stimulant and can cause people to rely on it for temporarily relaxation
  • Affects the body’s sexual, thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal hormones
  • Affects the production and sensitivity of insulin that could lead to type 2 diabetes and other potential health issues
  • Trying to quit smoking tobacco can cause physical reactions such as strong cravings for the substance, an increased appetite, insomnia and sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal problems and mood-related complaints including anxiety, anger and frustration, depression, irritability and restlessness. –  [source: MayoClinic]” – http://science.howstuffworks.com

So before using tobacco in any way of any form, think about how it could affect you, your body, and your health in the long term.


Tackling Sexual Health Issues for Bicultural Girls

Kaonou and Asia Hang at the Celebrations of Change Event

Kaonou and Asia Hang at the Celebrations of Change Event

Growing up as a teen in a small town in Wisconsin, Kaonou Hang was taught that it was inappropriate for a proper Hmong girl to talk about sexual health issues – whether it was about boyfriends and sex, her monthly periods or simply using words for the female anatomy.   This just wasn’t done in her culture and therefore relied on her friends’ knowledge to understand the changes that were occurring in her body as she grew into adulthood.

After graduating with a degree in biology with a special interest in maternal and child health, Kaonou decided that her 9-year old daughter’s experience of puberty was going to be very different.   She attended, along with other Hmong mothers, a workshop run by the Annex Teen Clinic, a Minneapolis-based health clinic for young people.  The workshop, entitled “Celebration of Change”, created space for mothers and daughters to talk about sexual health issues with a focus on the young girls’ expectations of going through puberty. The program is a part of the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative of the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Minority and Multicultural Health.

Kaonou Hang, an independent oriental medicine specialist, wrote:

As a mother of a pre-teen girl, I wanted make sure my daughter’s experience of puberty was going to be a positive one.  I also knew this was something the whole Hmong American community needed, not just me. After speaking to several community organizations, I came across the Annex Teen Clinic in North Minneapolis who had put together a sexual health curriculum called “Celebrations of Change” for African-American mothers and daughters. This was what I had been searching for.  My daughter and I, along with two other pairs of Hmong mothers and daughters were the first Asian American group to use the curriculum that was adapted for Asian Americans. I have to admit, even with my science and medical background, going into the Celebration of Change event was a little scary. I thought it was going to be filled with some serious heavy material. Instead, it was the complete opposite. It was fun, the dialogue was eye opening, and the time passed by way too quickly.  The event truly felt like a celebration of becoming a woman. Even though we were unable to cover every topic on puberty, this day allowed our daughters to know that they could come talk to us, their moms about this and any other topic.  The girls, the mothers and the instructors all thought the event was a success and the program will be rolled out to the local community in the near future.

Celebrations of Change Event held on March 2, 2013 at the Annex Teen Clinic - Mothers and Daughters

Celebration of Change Event was held on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at the Annex REACH Community Office Teen Clinic in Minneapolis – A Photo of the Mothers and Daughters who attended the event.

To learn more about the Celebration of Change event and Annex Teen Clinic, we asked health educator Song Thao, the facilitator who conducted the workshop, a few questions.

Song Thao, Health Educator at Annex Teen Clinic

Song Thao, Health Educator at Annex Teen Clinic

What is the Annex Teen Clinic?   

The Annex Teen Clinic is a sexual health clinic made for young people. We serve anyone up to the age of 26 years old.  We serve all communities in our area.

What do you do at Annex Teen Clinic?

As a health educator, a big part of my job is doing a federal grant-funded program called the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) in the schools that focus on healthy youth development.  It is a teen pregnancy prevention program designed to help young people make better decisions and to grow into an overall healthy teen.

What is the Celebration of Change Workshop? 

The Celebration of Change workshop is an event that started a couple years ago.  It is a flexible workshop that can be implemented over a few weeks, a weekend, or a full day retreat that explores healthy mother/daughter communication and healthy development during the stage of puberty. It is a program intended to help bridge the communication lines between mothers and daughters and to celebrate the time when young daughters are about to go through puberty.  The purpose is to get mothers & daughters comfortable with talking about the changes that will take place in their bodies and to celebrate this time of change.

How did the curriculum for Celebration of Change come about?

The curriculum for the Celebration of Change was developed in 1996 in an attempt to strengthen family communication around sexual health and development. It was created by a series of community members from different organizations who felt strongly about this topic.

How did you and others tailor the curriculum for the Celebration of Change Workshop to fit the Hmong community?

We kept a lot of the same information but took some information or activities out that we felt weren’t relevant to the Hmong community and we added some information that we felt the Hmong community could relate to.  I met with a few community members to gain their inputs and to figure out what would work best and get the message across the easiest.

Nou Yang and her daughter Brooke at the Celebrations of Change Workshop

Nou Yang and her daughter Brooke at the Celebrations of Change Workshop

What did you find that you had to do differently with the curriculum so it would be more culturally appropriate for Hmong girls and their moms?

I felt that because talking about body parts and development was always a taboo that by just being comfortable talking about it.  I also had to explain some words in Hmong or use some kind of Hmong reference/example to get them to fully understand some of the terms we were referring to.

Why do you think its important for Hmong girls and their moms to go through this workshop?

I think it’s extremely important for mothers and daughters of any cultural group to go through this workshop but especially important for the Hmong community to go through it because it’s definitely something different.  It opens up the door for communication and gives mothers and daughters a chance to connect in a different way and really deepen their relationship.

Sujin Vue and her daughter Suyi

Sujin Vue and her daughter Suyi

What did you find most surprising about having Hmong girls and moms go through the workshop compared to girls and moms who are not Hmong?

 Because this was a pilot program to see how well the Hmong community would perceive the program, I have not actually been able to compare it to other workshops.  But we do have other culturally specific celebration of change workshops that have been done in the past with the American (White) culture and the African American culture.

What have you found that helps working with Southeast Asian girls and moms to have them talk about these subjects?

I think having them split into the mother, daughter groups really helps because then they feel more free to talk or ask questions as they wish until they feel a little more comfortable.  I also think that incorporating different types of activities that still teach about sexuality really helps eases them as well as using activities that both mother and daughter can do together really helps.

Why do you think it’s difficult for Southeast Asian cultures to talk about subjects like periods, sexuality, bodies etc? 

I think it’s difficult for Southeast Asians to talk about sexuality because it is a taboo in our culture.  Also because we don’t have all the terms and words that the Western culture has.   And because it’s a generational thing.  Our parents’ parents have never talked to them because their parents haven’t talked to them and so on and that’s why our parents now don’t know how to talk to us about it. But that’s part of the reason for this workshop; it is to break the cycle so that we can freely talk about sexuality and not make it seem like it’s a bad or dirty thing to do but an educational tool.

Kaonou Hang and her daughter Asia at the workshop

Kaonou Hang and her daughter Asia at the workshop