Community Efforts to Extinguish Smoking to be Recognized

A Smoke Free Paso del Norte will host its annual Appreciation Luncheon at noon Friday, Dec. 14, at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing to formally thank its members and supporters for their participation throughout the year. Members of the media are invited to attend the keynote speech.

The goal of A Smoke Free Paso del Norte, an initiative funded by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation and led by UTEP Associate Professor of Psychology Theodore Cooper, Ph.D., is to use a comprehensive and coordinated approach to reduce tobacco use in the region. Evidence suggests that succeeding. 

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, in a 10-year period from 2000-09, El Paso exhibited a yearly 6 percent increase in former smokers, a 6 percent decrease in daily smokers, and a 7 percent decrease in established smoking. Similar trends were not observed in two comparison metropolitan statistical areas (Austin-Round Rock and San Antonio), which are similar in size and population to El Paso but have fewer coordinated tobacco control efforts. 

The 6th Annual Appreciation Luncheon will recognize individuals in El Paso, Alamogordo, Las Cruces, Hatch, N.M., and Juárez, Mexico who have assisted and supported the initiative. This year’s keynote speaker is Philip Huang, M.D., medical director and health authority for the Austin/Travis County Health Department.  

Prior to being the Medical Director and Health Authority of Austin/Travis County Health Department, he served as Medical Director for Chronic Disease Prevention at the Texas Department of State Health Services and Chief of the Bureau of Chronic Disease and Tobacco Prevention at the former Texas Department of Health, where his responsibilities included oversight of state activities related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and tobacco use prevention. 

Huang received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Rice University, his M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and his Master’s in Public Health from Harvard University with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. While at Harvard, Huang led the successful movement that ended in Harvard divesting its tobacco stocks. 

Huang served two years as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assigned to the Illinois Department of Public Health, where he conducted epidemiologic studies in chronic disease and infectious disease outbreak investigations. Huang is an author or co-author of numerous publications related to chronic disease and tobacco use prevention. He has been honored with awards including the 2012 Public Health Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is board certified in Family Medicine. 

For more information, contact Nora Hernandez, program coordinator/manager, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Mitzel A. Garcia, program coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 915-747-5072. 

WHAT: A Smoke Free Paso del Norte – Appreciation Luncheon

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 14 from noon – 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Ardovino’s Desert Crossing (1 Ardovinos Drive, Sunland Park, NM 88063)