'The Soul' event addresses relationship between tobacco industry advertising, African-Americans

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | 9:15 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — On Tuesday evening, about 30 people at MU's Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center learned a bit more about stress management and how advertising plays a role in smoking and alcohol use among minorities.

They had gathered for "The Soul," an event that addressed how tobacco and alcohol industries advertise to minority populations. The event was hosted by the Black Culture Center, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and the Wellness Resource Center as part of Black Culture Awareness Week, which runs through Friday.

According to the event's presenters, every day, the tobacco industry spends $23 million on advertising to try to get people to buy tobacco products. They said alcohol and tobacco advertisements are geared more toward minority groups, particularly African-Americans.

According to the website of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a 2007 study found that areas with an African-American majority had 2.6 times more tobacco advertisements per person than areas with white majorities. The smoking rate among African-Americans is 19.4 percent, slightly higher than the national rate of 19 percent, and African-Americans have low success rates of giving up alcohol and smoking, the presenters said, citing the website.

Ryan Manganelli, a senior studying nutrition and fitness and co-president of the MU Student Wellness Advocates, and Jenna Jordan, a health education graduate student and graduate research assistant in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, presented facts and statistics from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website.

The event also focused on stress-management. At a "word wall," participants wrote down what they did to cope with stress. During a progressive muscle relaxation session, participants became as comfortable as possible while Jordan read from a script about how to relax.

Freshman international business major Cydne Jarrett said the presentation was useful.

"I'm not a tobacco smoker, but I'm glad I got to destress a little bit and learn some new information about tobacco advertising," she said.

Phelan Simpkins, a sophomore studying biochemistry, said he loved the interactive portion of the event, which helped everyone relax.

"It got people in tune with their soul to help them stay healthy, especially during finals week," he said.

Supervising editor is Margaux Henquinet.

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