Jessica Jordan: The Food and Drug Administration released 9 new graphic warnings for cigarette packages this week – the fist new labels in more than two decades. The new warnings, which depict the negative health effect of cigarettes, are now required to cover at least 50% of every pack of cigarettes sold in the US.

Rob Sachs: The fight against cigarette smoking cigarettes has been a focus of the Russian-American Dental Association headquartered in New York. Its president is Dr. Rada Sumareva, and she is on the line right now. Can you tell us a little bit more about the association and your campaign to stop smoking cigarettes?

Rada Sumareva: Our association is a non-for-profit professional association, which actually serves its purpose. It organizes educational events and conferences for dental and medical professionals, as well as acts as charity. As such, we have Oral Cancer/Smoking Cessation Project, which has successfully run for the last 4 years, mostly in the New York Metro Area. It includes several events, like free oral cancer screenings – and I’m happy to say that the geography of our screenings has expanded for the last few years, covering New York, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the northern Georgia area. During these screenings, if we notice any suspicious liaisons and if a person isn’t able to pay for biopsy, our association covers the cost of biopsy and, depending on the result, we give recommendations to patients on where to go for follow-up treatment as well as try to get them financial help. Also, as a part of the project, we’ve had a very successful anti-smoking cigarettes art contest this year, on March 3rd, called Anti-Smoking Drawing Art Contest. We received over 1,000 drawings from kids age 8-15. We divided these drawings into several categories: 1-3th grade, 4-5th grade and 6-8th grade. Then, we had an awards ceremony at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and they got prizes and recognition. We also published a catalogue of the winning drawings. This year the awards ceremony took place on June 15th and received a very good response from the community, as well as publicity. To my mind, it’s a very good project, because, as we all know, or may not know, smoking cigarettes is responsible for 443,000 deaths a year and over 8% of smokers have their first cigarette before they turn 15. Hopefully, with the help of our project we will deliver a message to kids about harmful effects of smoking cigarettes, preventing them from taking up this bad habit and eventually leading a smoke cigarettes revolt.

Jessica Jordan: Speaking of the Food and Drug Administration’s new warning labels on cigarette packages and cigarettes products, cigarette packages will now carry warning labels, such as “Cigarette Smoking is Addictive”, “Smoking Can Harm Your Children”, “Cigarettes Cause Fatal Lung Disease”, do you think this is doing enough to curb smoking cigarettes and the use of tobacco products in this country?

Rada Sumareva: I don’t think that any single measure is enough to prevent people from smoking cigarettes. But I’m sure that all the measures together will get us to the result that we want.

Rob Sachs: I wonder if smoking cigarettes is a bigger problem specifically in the Russian-American community.

Rada Sumareva: It’s historically a bigger problem in the Russian community, not only in the US, but also Russia and former Soviet republics. I haven’t seen any official statistics, but some estimations show that Russia is one of the most smoking cigarettes communities, as well as the US and former Soviet Union republics.

Jessica Jordan: As part of your campaign, you offer free oral screenings. How many people have taken advantage of that programme and are proactive in their own health and preventing this?

Rada Sumareva: We’ve had over 100 people coming to us seeking for help. But even though not all people come to us, they do call us and ask for advice. So, hopefully, with all this advertisement around this event, we cover much larger groups that we see during these screenings.

Rob Sachs: We often think of smoking cigarettes as a lung issue. But are the big problems that you see as a dentist?

Rada Sumareva: Actually, thank you very much for asking this question. It’s a great question. We know how smoking cigarettes is contributing to lung cancer and lung diseases, that smoking cigarettes is responsible for heart problems. Very little do we know about smoking cigarettes being one of the major and perilous factors for oral cancer, if not the most impotent, then one of the three most important factors. Oral cancer is one of major death causes in the US. It’s even more common than melanoma that we see everywhere, while little is known about oral cancer. It’s very important that community knew what it is and how to prevent it. And one of the ways to prevent it is to fight smoking cigarettes and alcohol use.

Jessica Jordan: Smoking and the use of tobacco is so addictive. We see millions of people smoking cigarettes and using tobacco products. How do you help people stop smoking cigarettes?

Rada Sumareva: We do have various programmes. We give lectures to medical and dental professionals, advising them on how to advise their patients on smoking cigarettes cessation. We also recommend free hot lines in New York City to people, who want to stop smoking cigarettes, as well as special agencies and various professionals, who could help them give up smoking cigarettes. I think one of the most effective ways is reaching out through different programmes and events. This year, we ran for the first timeYoung Musicians for a Smoke Free Planet concert at Lincoln Center, which was widely advertized. So, the more people see and hear about it the faster it’ll reach they mind.

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