Network Staff Spotlight

The Network would like to take a moment and highlight our Fabulous Program Associate, Emilia Dunham.

Emilia Dunham, Network Program Associate

On Friday, March 18th, Campus Progress released their List-Down: 15 Inspiring Young Female Activist with our very own Emilia Dunham making the list.

With March being women’s history month, Campus Progress wanted to take a moment and recognize amazing women who are inspiring work today, rather than great leaders in the past. While there have been some amazing women who have truly shaped our history, I really liked their approach in recognizing the women of the future!

With this recent news we wanted to take an opportunity to showcase Emilia and all of her amazing accomplishments.

As you know Emilia has been working with the Network for the past year, but before she came onboard she had been shaping the future for herself and her community years. Before joining the Network Emilia worked as an intern performing quality control on multi-site clinical HIV prevention trials at Fenway Health our parent organization. Additionally she is the chair of Youth Kicks!, a social marketing campaign of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition focused on LGBTQ youth tobacco control. She is also the Policy Committee Co-Chair for the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.

One of her biggest accomplishments took place as an undergraduate student at Northeastern University, where she spearheaded a successful Gender Neutral Housing campaign. After a few years of advocating, collaboration, and protocol development, Emilia along with other worked with the administration to pilot Gender Neutral Housing in 2009, which continues to thrive today.

Additionally, while at Northeastern University, she served as President of the LGBTQ student group NU Pride where she planned LGBTQ focused activities such as Pride Week, Day of Silence, AIDS Week and numerous other events.  Last April, she presented a paper on Feminism and Transgender Activism at the New England Sociological Association Annual Conference.

She’s also been involved with a number of other jobs and activities in areas of social justice, women’s health and LGBT equality and will continue to amaze us all.

If you would like to join me in congratulating Emilia on this amazing accomplishment, click here to send her an email directly.

Click here to view the article: Inspiring generations, Emilia Dunham listed as one of 15 Inspiring Young Female Activist.

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


March 2011 Activity Report


Dear Fellow Blog Readers,

As you may have seen we have started posting mini activity reports to our blog outlining some of our work over the past month. The reports are generally posted the third week of the month so we can share some of the Network’s current efforts with you all. We will continue to send out Newsletters every other month and we will have one coming out soon, but in the meantime here is our March 2011 Activity Report.


March 2011 Activity Report:
The Network has been extremely busy this past month. We started off the month with Scout presenting on LGBT Health Policy to a huge crowd at the 32nd Annual Minority Health Conference at University of North Carolina. From there we went to Puerto Rico, where we trained local advocates on our LGBT Cultural Competency Training, held a two-day Strategic Planning Retreat with our Steering Committee, and participated in two local events, the first ever LGBTT Health Summit and Puerto Rico’s Tobacco Conference. (In Puerto Rico, they use LGBTT because they say transgender and transexual.) The events were all a huge success. The Strategic Planning Retreat brought new ideas, direction and clarified identity for the Network as we grow into our new name. The LGBTT Health Summit was more popular than we could have imagined, organizers finally cut off registration at 130 people. Steering Committee chair Francisco Buchting presented on surveillance and as one of the main sponsors, our Director Dr. Scout actually managed to give a short welcome speech to the crowd in Spanish. But the real stars were the local organizers, who assembled an amazing program. Attendees were so enthusiastic about the event that many planned to continue meeting about LGBT health issues. Overall, Puerto Rico is a Dream. They already have some of the most comprehensive tobacco free laws in the country (you can’t even smoke on the beaches or in cars with kids), now we learn that local advocates have been successful in getting them to add LGBT questions to both their quitline and BRFSS survey. The Network for LGBT Health Equity was even listed as a main sponsor of their tobacco conference. In preparation for our Puerto Rican journey we also our proud to report four newly translated Spanish language resources: our brochure, a smokefree air factsheet, the Sharing our Lessons HIV booklet, and our Quitline Poster. After Puerto Rico Scout moved onto Washington D.C. to attend the New Beginnings Initiative convening of LGBT policy organizations from across the country.  Attendees reviewed the LGBT gains at a federal level and created a priority list for future years coordinated policy priorities. Spurred by this meeting, Scout wrote to HHS officials about policy gaps. Initial information shows the communique was circulated up to Sebelius’ office and well received, more on that effort as we know it. To round out the month, Scout presented on nutrition and exercise at the Missouri Checkout Advisory Committee meeting.


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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


FDA, Center for Tobacco Products Stakeholder Discussion Series Session focusing on Minority Communities and Groups Affected by Tobacco-Related Health Disparities

Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager

Last week I was in Oakland CA for the FDA, Center for Tobacco Products Stakeholder Discussion Series Session focusing on Minority Communities and Groups Affected by Tobacco-Related Health Disparities.

For those of you who don’t know, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) is charged with implementing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act). The overall goal is to find effective ways to reduce the tremendous toll of disease and death caused by tobacco use. After conducting in-depth conversations with representatives from various audiences affected by tobacco product regulation, including tobacco control advocates and regulated industry, CTP decided to host a variety of meetings to understand the true implications the regulations have on the audiences affected. So far 3 of the 7 meeting have taken place.

Below is a list of the Meeting that has and will take place.

• State and Local Tobacco Control Officials – October 3, 2010 Atlanta, GA

• Tobacco Manufacturers and Growers – December 8, 2010 Raleigh, NC

• Minority Communities and Groups Affected by Tobacco-Related Health Disparities – February 8, 2011 Oakland, CA

• Public Health Advocates – April 13, 2011 Chicago, IL

• American Indians/Alaska Natives – June 28, 2011 Gila River Indian Community (Phoenix, AZ)

• Distributors, Importers, Retailers, and Wholesalers – August 24, 2011 Dallas, TX

• Youth – September 13, 2011 Boston, MA

To see the agenda and a recap of the meetings click here.

CTP limits the amount of individuals invited to actively participate in the discussion and each of the National Tobacco Networks were asked to submit names of individuals to sit at the table. This process was very difficult for most of us as there were no travel resources attached to the invitation. Most networks reached out to their California based contacts for representation at the meeting. The Network was pleased to have great representation from our communities, and would like to thanks the following individuals for taking time out of their schedules to attend and or provide input for the meeting:

Bob Gordon

Naphtali Offen

Gloria Soliz

Francisco Buchting

Gary Humfleet

Kurt Fowler

The meeting opened with Dr. Lawrence Deyton, Director for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. For those of you who may not be as familiar with Dr. Deyton he has a long standing history within LGBT health and Tobacco Control. In 1978 Dr. Deyton founded the Whitman Walker Clinic which is one of his many accomplishments. As the director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products Dr. Deyton opened with his commitment to tobacco control and moving forward with a unified messages and actions to protect our communities from the dangers to Tobacco.

After the opening by Dr. Deyton each of the Disparity Networks (minus the National Native Commercial Tobacco Abuse Prevention Network as there will be another discussion specifically geared towards American Indians/Alaska Natives) presented on their network and the role they play in helping to reduce disparities within their communities in regard to tobacco control. Each of the presentations closed with initial recommendations  for the FDA Center for Tobacco Products to consider as they implement the Tobacco Control Act. There was some definite consensus across all of the networks from banning menthol, to the need for more data for all of our communities, as well as the need to regulate new tobacco products such as SNUS and existing products like mini cigars, and cigarillos.

One major take away message as we began discussing each of these common themes was the need for data, and testimony to  support  the proposed regulations implemented by the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. The Center has built into their infrastructure time for public comments on proposed or new regulations, in most cases the comment windows will be around 60 days. This is our opportunity to ignite our communities to take action, to ensure our voices are heard. I know what you are thinking, if you do not know that there is a comment period open how do you make comments? Additionally if they are soliciting “evidence based comments” and all you have is the practical knowledge of working with your community which may not be scientific based will your comments be heard? Everyone’s comments are welcome, and yes they need as much scientific based materials to support comments as possible (they are fighting an uphill battle against the tobacco industry) but your comments will be heard and they are needed. Let’s say we are all noticing a common theme in our communities, how will they know where to focus some more of their efforts let’s say gathering data on the issue if they are unaware that a specific issues exists in our communities. In addition,  I urge everyone to sign up to the FDA news list. Keep up to date on current news that can affect our communities, and/or opportunities we can support the Center moving forward such as public comment when needed. Click here to sign up, I signed up and I love knowing what’s going on right from the source. This weekly update is so valuable if you are interested in the Act.

Back to the meeting, Throughout the day, there was a lot of rich dialogue from the partners at the table. Dr. Deyton ended the day with 15 points gathered from the meeting, and he noted that the dialogue today is just the beginning as we move forward with the regulations. Below are the points as I interpreted them:

1. Trust, we need to have trust! Open and honest communication and a sense of Transparency and understanding that at times we are not all going to be on the same page but Trust that the goals are aligned just have to work out the best way accomplish them.

2. Knowledge about the FDA and how it interacts with our communities is important to them, and they will get the information to our communities for feedback. Understanding the Tobacco Control Act and the authority the FDA has and what they are unable to do in the same regard is important. We can support in these efforts by helping to generate comments for the FDA, and address areas where more work is needed to gather data where there is none. At times we may not feel that there is enough being done so we need to explain that and unite our communities in these efforts.

3. The FDA will look into maybe an office on disparities, or a disparity advisory board to assist with the implementation of the act. There is a strong commitment to disparities and this is one piece we hope to see address in the near future.

4. We opened their eyes to the whole arena around education, and the complexities of working with diverse communities. As each of our communities are different we need to take a tailored approach to ensure all of our communities are represented in educational efforts and that no one community is left behind. So they will look into a more tailored approach moving forward.

5. The Center will needs to look at the trickledown effect more and how much of what the FDA does will affect the local operational level.

6. The need for more data and research is apparent. They will look into ways to utilize existing data and ways to fund community specific data collection.

7. Menthol, they defiantly heard the concerns around the ban of menthol and we will soon see what will take place moving forward with the menthol debate

8. FDA’s Assertion of jurisdiction on other tobacco products. The FDA has the ability to assert jurisdiction over other tobacco products and they are addressing opportunities as they arise and are moving forward. This is an area we all need to keep an eye out for, in hopes that little cigars, hookah tobacco, cigarillos etc. are all addressed by the FDA.

9. Graphic Health Warnings, they are aware that there is support to add the Quitline and/or other cessation messages to the warning labels. This is another hot topic to keep an eye on and we will see what happens moving forward.

10. Enforcement, the FDA is aware that the need for enforcement is great and that they need to find ways that they can foster the community into these efforts

11. Optimal collaboration with other federal agencies with the thought of leveraging resources/discussions to ensure tobacco is always on each other’s agendas.

12. Throughout the discussion the Center realized that there were populations left out of the discussion today such as incarcerated individuals, those with mental health issues etc. and they feel these communities are very important and will be discussed more moving forward.

13. Funding (the elephant in the room), Dr. Deyton acknowledged that there is a need for resources for implementation and is trying to look at ways to address this growing issue. Although there are not any answers now, this is another area of interest that they will look into.

14. Dr. Deyton also explained the need for understanding that the tobacco control act makes FDA the “primary regulatory authority with respect to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products” and with that adds new slivers in tobacco control, but the FDA cannot correct the issues in the rest of the Tobacco Control arena. They have a specific task that they have been granted authority over through the Act.

15. Trust and Commitment again, Dr. Deyton explained that we have to trust that we all have a common goal and the road getting there may not seem like the most logical but that we have to trust in each other moving forward.

As you can gather there was a lot of discussion during the meeting. I found was quite difficult to break it all down in a way that makes sense but I hope the information provided was useful at this stage. I will be monitoring the progress moving forward, and will continue to update you all as new opportunities, or outcomes arise. Again, I do urge you all to sign up to the FDA’s Email list to ensure you receive your weekly update!

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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


Substantial Equivalence for Public Health and Tobacco Control Professionals Webinar Today 10:30am EST

Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager

By Gustavo Torrez

Looking to make some sense of FDA regulation of Tobacco?

As many of you know, there are a lot of complex pieces that are associated with the FDA regulation of Tobacco. In an effort to ease some of this complex information the FDA holds webinars to help communities make sense of the regulations.  Recently, the FDA announced that certain tobacco products introduced or changed after February 15, 2007 must be reviewed to prove to be “Substantially Equivalent” to products on the market today.

OK, I know what you are thinking, what does “Substantially Equivalent” mean?

FDA Definition of “Substantially Equivalent”:

“Substantially equivalent” means the products must be the same in terms of ingredients, design, composition, heating source and other characteristics to an existing, single predicate product or have different characteristics, but not raise different questions of public health.

I assume you are all now experts in “Substantially Equivalence”

But just in case you want a little more info let me help boil some things down, and give you some insight of what will be discussed in today’s webinar.

First, the Tobacco Control Act requires manufacturers of new or modified tobacco products to submit a “premarket application” before any product can be put on the market. If a product was not altered on or before February 15, 2007 manufacturers do not have to submit a premarket application.

Under section 910(c) of the Tobacco Control Act, it states to introduce a new or modified tobacco product manufactures have to submit an application to FDA providing information on the product. So for the first time we actually will have detailed information from the industry on a products composition.

The FDA defines a new tobacco product and the definition of a tobacco product as follows:

A new tobacco product is defined (Section 910(a)(1)) of the Tobacco Control Act as:

  1. “any tobacco product (including those products in test markets) that was not commercially marketed in the United States as of February 15, 2007; or”
  2. “any modification (including a change in design, any component, any part, or any constituent, including a smoke constituent, or in the content, delivery or form of nicotine, or any other additive or ingredient) of a tobacco product where the modified product was commercially marketed in the United States after February 15, 2007.”
    (NOTE: It is important to point out that the law defines a ‘new tobacco product’ to include a modification of a tobacco product where the modified product is commercially marketed after February 15, 2007.)

What is a tobacco product?
Tobacco product means “any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption, including any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product (except for raw materials other than tobacco used in manufacturing a component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product).” (section 201(rr)(1))

SO, just to note e-Cigarettes do not fall under this section.

A major benefit with application process is that it will allow the FDA to evaluate the product and determine if a product is “appropriate for the protections of the public health”. SIDE NOTE: we know based on the new Surgeon General Report there is no safe cigarette so we will see how this pans out.

Well that’s is just a brief overview of a couple pieces that will be discussed in today’s call.

Below is the announcement for today’s call from the FDA:

We wanted to remind you of today’s webinar on Substantial Equivalence for Public Health and Tobacco Control Professionals. Below you will find relevant details on how to access the webinar and how to submit a question to our presenters.  We look forward to your attendance.

Public Health and Tobacco Control

When: January 14, 2011, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET

Who Should Attend: Public Health and Tobacco Control Professionals


•       Les Weinstein, JD, MBA, CTP Ombudsman, CTP Office of the Director

•       Cristi Stark, MS, Senior Regulatory Health Project Manager, CTP Office of Science

Webinar Link:

Call In Information: You may listen to this webinar through your computer. If you do not have speakers or do not have internet access, you may call our listen-only line at 1-866-901-3913; Meeting ID: 65289

Submitting Questions During Webinar

During the webinar, if you wish to submit a question, please use the chat function on the left side of your screen to type it to us. Questions will be answered after all presentations have been completed. We will do our best to answer all questions. If you are not logged into the webinar, you can call us at our main number 1-877-CTP-1373 to leave a question.

An archived version of the webinar as well as copies of the presentation will be available shortly.

For more information on our substantial equivalence webinars, please visit:

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Posted by on January 14, 2011 in Uncategorized


Rainbow Health Initiative LGBTQ Health Assessment – We Need Your Help

Loretta Worthington, Executive Director Rainbow Health Initiative

Hello all,

I am requesting any of you that are willing to please forward this health assessment link to any and all LGBT listserves around the country. We are really hoping to get a good sampling of data from states other than MN.

I would greatly appreciate this last push, We are closing the survey on 12/31/2010.

Rainbow Health Initiative is gathering health data from LGBTQ people around the country to inform services and address service and program needs.




Loretta Worthington, MOL, MSP
Executive Director
Rainbow Health Initiative
Twin Cities Quorum Nonprofit of the Year 2009
3249 Hennepin Ave South
Suite 45

Minneapolis, MN 55408
877-499-7744 Office
877-495-7744 Fax
612-708-6208 Cell



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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Uncategorized



Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager

By: Gustavo Torrez


As you may have seen we have been reporting for some time now the feds have a set of guidelines for healthcare organizations called the CLAS standards (Cultural & Linguistically Appropriate Services). Some of them are required of all federal funds recipients, others are strongly suggested. Currently, they are taking feedback on how to make these standards better, both online and through a series of live meetings. Although the last live meeting took place on November 15th, it’s not too late to make your voice heard. They are still taking comments till December 31, 2010. While you may think your voice is small, it’s not. The more public comment the better, we have to make sure our voices are heard!

Click here to register and make your comments now, it only take a few minutes! And, if you are not sure what to say, here are some suggestions for you to add:

*Make all standards mandatory for federally funded healthcare agencies, not just the ones related to language.

*Standard 1 – add language in brackets Health care organizations should ensure that patients/consumers receive from all staff member’s effective, understandable, and respectful care that is provided in a manner compatible with their cultural health beliefs and practices, [preferred gender identity,] and preferred language.

*Standard 10 – add language in brackets Health care organizations should ensure that data on the individual patient’s/consumer’s race, ethnicity, [sexual orientation, gender identity,] and spoken and written language are collected in health records, integrated into the organization’s management information systems, and periodically updated.

For those of you who have already filled out the survey, we thank you for all of your continued support for equality for our communities. We all look forward to an enhances set of CLAS Standard in 2011!

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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Action Alerts




December 9, 2010

CONTACT: Dr. Scout





Today marked the launch of the Surgeon General’s 30th report on tobacco, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease. The report will be better known for its main message being echoed around media outlets that the evidence shows there is absolutely no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. In the words of the Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, “One cigarette can kill you.” Unfortunately, within hours of this press announcement the American Family Association used this media opportunity to campaign against gay people. Their press release about this health event was titled “One cigarette can kill you; so can one act of gay sex.”

Dr. Scout is the Director of The Fenway Institute’s Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health Equity. One of their main activities is urging LGBT inclusion in tobacco control activities nationwide. “Considering the LGBT communities’ smoking rates are from 35-almost 200% higher than the mainstream population and the recent rash of LGBT youth suicides,” says Dr. Scout, “we feel this linking of one of our communities’ biggest health disparities and anti-gay propaganda to be no less than dangerous.”

Earlier this week the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that they were formally adding 13 anti-gay groups to their national list of hate groups; American Family Association is one of the groups to be added. SPLC monitors hate groups all of kinds [932 to date] and other extremists throughout the United States and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public. According to Evelyn Schlatter, Author of SPLC’s Winter 2010 Intelligence Report, “Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities….the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations.”


As a result of bullying and harassment, LGBT youth are four times more likely to think about or attempt suicide according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Scout comments, “I’m very pleased to see SPLC has spoken out that these organizations are no more than hate groups. The hurdles we fight to get our LGBT youth through school intact are big enough. We know the stress of discrimination is why they start smoking more than other kids. People who deliberately fan the flames of stigma against these vulnerable youth should consider the story the LGBT youth suicide statistics tell.”

The Network for LGBT Health Equity at The Fenway Institute was formerly the Network for LGBT Tobacco Control. The Network is a grassroots collection of hundreds of LGBT health advocates and professionals nationwide. They have been working with local, state, and national tobacco control entities for years to help integrate the best possible LGBT tobacco control activities at all levels. Two of the Networks most popular resources are cultural competency trainings for states looking to expand their LGBT health equity work and strategies for how to integrate LGBT measures into health surveys. More information about the Network can be found at More information about LGBT youth safety can be found at


Crossposted on:

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Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Uncategorized