Kathie Warfield couldn't bear the thought of not seeing her children and grandchildren grow up. More than ever, the devoted Indianapolis mother and grandmother wanted to find a way to help her break an on-again, off-again addiction to tobacco; a threat to her health and well-being spanning more than 20 years. She had even suffered a stroke. Years before, as a teenager, she didn’t understand why her friends found it so appealing to smoke. However, not long after she went to work for a hospital, she found herself outside with some of her other co-workers huddled under a tent in an area where smoking was permitted. But, after the hospital’s campus went smoke-free, she found herself needing to take care of her grandfather and she wanted to see her kids and grandkids grow up. She quit on her own and successfully stopped smoking for two decades. Eventually, after experiencing some tragedies in her family – including the untimely deaths of two brothers – the stress got on her nerves and she began smoking again. Kathie credits her success in deciding to stop smoking a second time to the advice she received from her physician after experiencing a stroke. Together with the support of her family, she called the Indiana Tobacco Quitline toll-free at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. With the help of a trained quit coach, whose calls and text messages provided her with the advice and support she needed, she stopped smoking for good, recovered fully from the stroke, and works as a caregiver and is living a healthier life. Now, she’s sharing her story and her experience with the Quitline as part of a statewide campaign from Indiana Black Expo (IBE) entitled “Matters of the Heart”, the purpose of which is to encourage African American adults living in Indiana to stop using tobacco or never start. The campaign is the centerpiece of a program by IBE with a grant from Tobacco, Prevention and Cessation (TPC) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). Age appropriate help from the Quitline is also available for youth ages 13 to 17. The “Matters of the Heart” campaign is defined by the devastating impact caused by tobacco use and the fact it affects not just the person who uses tobacco, but their entire family, friends and even co-workers. In its third year, the campaign is continuing to make an impact. In its first year, in 2015, calls to the Quitline by African Americans increased 16 percent. A year later, it improved and went up by 21 percent. Most recently, in February 2018, African American adults in the Hoosier state accounted for 13.4 percent of the Quitline calls. If you live in Indiana, you can learn more by visiting the IBE website or on Facebook. Important facts involving African American adults and tobacco use:

  • Each year, nearly 45,000 African Americans die from smoke-related diseases like heart disease, stroke and lung cancer – more black lives than are lost to homicide, diabetes, AIDS and accidents combined.
  • Smoking causes Type 2 diabetes and affects insulin dosing.
  • During 2011-12, seven out of every 10 African-American children ages 3 to 11 in the U.S. were exposed to secondhand smoke regularly.
  • The risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for African Americans as whites, and African Americans are more likely to die following a stroke as whites.
Edward Rogers is the Tobacco Prevention Cessation Program Coordinator at Indiana Black Expo.  

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