Clearing the Smoke: Effective… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Clearing the Smoke: Effective Tobacco Cessation Strategies

Originally aired December 13, 2023

This installment of our Campaign for the Culture conversation series was presented in partnership with Truth Initiative.

Despite the progress made in reducing tobacco’s grip on Americans, 46 million people in the U.S use some form of tobacco. Approximately 480,000 people in the U.S. die each year from their own cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and around 16 million people in the U.S currently suffer from smoking-related diseases.

Smokers often want to quit but don’t have the resources or support to do it. That’s why tobacco cessation programs are so critical. However, tobacco cessation efforts nationwide are still failing to reach their full potential.

In this conversation, we heard from experts about what tobacco cessation entails and what resources are available and effective for people who want to quit. We also highlighted the importance of continued support for smokers along their quit journey.

Featured Speakers

Gustavo Torrez (Moderator)
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Director of Youth Advocacy

Gustavo Torrez is a youth and community organizer and has been involved in the tobacco control movement for the past 27 years. He began this work as a youth advocate in California and continued his career in Boston, where he was a Program Manager with Fenway Community Health and the National Network for LGBT Health Equity, one of the CDC-funded priority population networks. For the past nine years, Gustavo has been leading youth and young adult programing as the Director of Youth Advocacy at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He is responsible for programs that reach youth at every level. These include Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action and the National Youth and Young Adult Ambassadors program that trains, supports and amplifies emerging leaders in the movement.

Carol McGruder
African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council

Carol McGruder is a seasoned veteran of California’s tobacco prevention experience. A senior project director, activist, researcher and writer, Carol has worked in tobacco prevention since 1994. She is experienced in the fields of public policy, social marketing, media advocacy, global tobacco control, health education, community capacity/power building, and leadership development. She is a proud co-founding member and Co-Chairperson of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) and the Project Director for two statewide projects in California, including AMPLIFY! African American Coordinating Center (AACC).

Dr. Karen Beard, EdD
Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist

Dr. Karen J Beard is a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist with experience facilitating tobacco cessation groups and individual counseling. She also has a background in counseling psychology, social work, and disability and rehabilitation case management. Dr. Beard’s passion for tobacco cessation work stems partly from her experience supporting her husband in his journey to give up nicotine, until his death in 2013. Her education at Florida State University, University of South Florida, and Gannon University has given her the tools to assess, plan and facilitate tobacco cessation interventions. Dr. Beard developed the Free and Proud Method, a culturally appropriate cessation intervention specifically designed for African Americans.

Dr. Amanda Graham, PhD
Truth Initiative
Chief of Innovations

Dr. Graham is Chief of Innovations at Truth Initiative where she leads a cross-functional team that develops, evaluates and markets digital products for tobacco cessation. Under her leadership and in collaboration with partners at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Graham led the development of the EX Program, an enterprise digital tobacco cessation platform designed for employers and health plans, and This is Quitting, a first-of-its-kind quit vaping program for teens and young adults. Dr. Graham is Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.

Megan Jacobs, MPH
Truth Initiative
Vice President of Product

As the Vice President of Product for the Innovations center at Truth Initiative, Megan Jacobs brings an empathic, user-centered approach to product design that is key to the successful quit-smoking and vaping programs used by over one million people looking to break free from addiction. Ms. Jacobs is a graduate of the University of Michigan; she holds a master’s degree in public health communication and marketing from the George Washington University, as well as certificates in product management and design thinking.

Millie Martinez
Recent quitter and The EX Program user

Millie Martinez is a mother and grandmother living in the Bronx. Millie started smoking menthol cigarettes at the age of 16. She recently became inspired to quit with the birth of her first grandchild and stopped smoking with the support of The EX Program from Truth Initiative.