For Immediate Release
July 15, 2015

CONTACT: Susan Lamontagne at 631.899.3825 or


Despite Citywide Declines in Smoking, Tobacco Use by Asian-American Men on the Rise

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center Receives $150,000 to Strengthen Smoking Cessation Programs for Asian Americans

NEW YORK, NY—Cigarette smoking in New York City (NYC) has been trending downward, yet tobacco use among Asian Americans remains prevalent and smoking by Asian American men is on the rise. To tackle this trend, the RCHN Community Health Foundation has awarded $150,000 to the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (Charles B. Wang) to strengthen smoking cessation initiatives for at-risk Asian Americans living in NYC.

Tobacco use is considered the number one cause of preventable death and disease. While smoking prevalence has decreased markedly in NYC from 21.5% in 2002 to 14.8% in 2011, the rate of smoking among Asian American men increased during that same time period and is now reportedly at a staggering 24.2%.

“Part of the challenge is that smoking is a widely accepted within the Chinese community and awareness of its health risks is low,” said Jane T. Eng, Esq., chief executive officer of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. “While New York City has done a terrific job lowering smoking rates overall, we need to focus on populations who are still smoking at alarming rates and educate them about the direct and second-hand risks of tobacco use,” said Eng.

Charles B. Wang has partnered with New York University Langone Medical Center and community partners including the Chinese American Medical Society and Asian Americans for Equality on the project, Community Action on Smoking and Health, to address smoking rates in New York’s Lower East and Chinatown communities in Manhattan and Queens.

Challenges to reducing smoking rates among Asian Americans, according to Eng, include that public education campaigns to quit tobacco use are rarely in Chinese; cigarettes from China can be purchased at a nominal cost on the “black market”; and, when a non-English speaking Asian American calls New York’s quit line, it typically takes about 20 minutes to find a Chinese language interpreter.

“A critical part of improving our nation’s health is to more effectively reach and care for those who face cultural or systemic barriers that limit their access to care and ability to lead healthier lives,” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF). “Our foundation is pleased to support innovative projects to improve the health of vulnerable populations and share lessons learned on how to deliver health care that works better for our communities.”

The “Community Action on Smoking and Health” project will include expanding and strengthening smoking cessation services, including follow-up with patients who smoke; the development of a Chinese-language social marketing campaign to raise awareness about the harmful effects of smoking; and in partnership with the Chinese American Medical Society, will encourage private practice physicians to screen, counsel, and refer patients for smoking cessation services.

Charles B. Wang is one of six grantees in five states that will receive $150,000 each to develop and launch a population health focused program. Other projects include initiatives to improve pediatric care management and reduce child and teen ER visits by Hudson Headwaters Health Network, Queensbury, NY; reduce diabetes-related emergencies by ACCESS Family Care, Neosho, MO; to improve colon cancer screening rates by Adelante Healthcare, Phoenix, AZ; improve cervical cancer screening rates in health center communities by Colorado Community Health Network, Denver, CO; and establish a medical home for the homeless by Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, Santa Rosa, CA.

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Charles B. Wang Community Health Center is a federally qualified health center which seeks to eliminate disparities in health, improve health status, and expand access to the medically underserved with a focus on Asian Americans. The Health Center operates in four locations in New York City and provides high quality, affordable and culturally effective primary care and support services to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations. For more information, visit