Promoting Tobacco Cessation and Smoke-Free Workplaces Through Community Outreach Partnerships in Puerto Rico
Background: Puerto Rico (PR) has a lower smoking prevalence than the United States (14.8% vs. 21.2%, respectively); nevertheless, the five leading causes of death are associated with smoking. There is a need to implement evidence-based tobacco control strategies in PR. Objectives: The Outreach Pilot Program (OPP) was designed to engage communities, health professionals, and researchers in a network to advance health promotion activities and research to increase the use of the PR Quitline (PRQ) among smokers and promoting policies in support of smoke-free workplaces. Methods: Using community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods, the OPP mobilized a network of community and academic partners to implement smoking cessation activities including referrals to the PRQ, adoption of evidence-based smoking cessation programs, and promotion of smoke-free legislation. Results: Eighty organizations participated in the OPP. Collaborators implemented activities that supported the promotion of the PRQ and smoke-free workplaces policy and sponsored yearly trainings, including tobacco control conferences. From 2005 to 2008, physician referrals to the PRQ increased from 2.6% to 7.2%. The number of annual smokers receiving cessation services through the PRQ also increased from 703 to 1,086. The OPP shepherded a rigorous smoke-free law through participation in the development, promotion, and implementation of the smoke-free workplaces legislation as well as the creation of the PR Tobacco Control Strategic Plan, launched in 2006. Conclusions: This project demonstrates the feasibility of developing a successful and sustainable community-based outreach program model that enlists the participation of academic researchers, community organizations, and health care providers as partners to promote tobacco control.
smoking cessation; quitlines; community outreach; community-based participatory research; health disparities