Addressing Tobacco as a Social Justice Issue at The Institute 2010
Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend The Institute 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia on behalf of APPEAL where I got the chance to participate in a course entitled, "Addressing Tobacco as a Social Justice Issue," taught by the amazing, charismatic, and very wise Bill Robinson, Executive Director of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) .
By the end of Day 1, the class had collectively come up with a working definition of social justice, where everyone has access to healthcare and wellness opportunities, equal economic opportunities, and equal healthcare outcomes regardless of group membership. In other words, equal access should yield equal outcomes for social justice in public health.
Conventional wisdom told me that this isn't the case today-otherwise I wouldn't be concerned with health disparities. So, where do health disparities come from and how do we address tobacco as a social justice issue? Remember history. Value culture and people. Consider economics.
Despite all of the rich material and discussion over three days, Mr. Robinson stressed that all I needed to remember from his course were three things: (1) HISTORY, (2) CULTURE, and (3) ECONOMICS. He challenged my fellow classmates and me to consider how the tobacco control movement has been impacted by these things in the past, present, and to consider their implications for the future.