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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Health equity is achieved when every ​person has the opportunity to “attain his o​​​r her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving ​this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”​​​

Centers for Disease ​Control and Prevention​

Achieving Health Equity​​

​The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has put forth four key steps to achieve health equity: 

  1. ​​​Identify important health disparities. Many disparities in health are rooted in inequities in the ​​​opportunities and resources needed to be as healthy as possible. The determinants of health include living and working conditions, education, income, neighborhood characteristic, social inclusion, and medical care. An increase in opportunities to be healthier will benefit everyone but more focus should be placed on groups that have been excluded or marginalized in the past.​​​

  2. ​Chan​ge and implement policies, laws, systems, environments, and practices to reduce inequities in the opportunities and resources needed to be as healthy as possible. Eliminate the unfair individual and institutional social conditions that give rise to the inequities.

  3. Evaluate and monitor efforts using short- and long-term measures as it may take decades or generations to reduce some health disparities. In order not to ​​​underestimate the size of the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged, disadvantaged groups should not be compared to the general population but to advantaged groups.

  4. ​Reassess strategies in light of process and outcomes and plan next steps. Actively engage those most affected by disparities in the identification, design, implementation, and evaluation of promising solutions.​​​​​​​​​​​​

Assessing Your Community 

Not all communities are the same, so it is important to assess your community to guide your tobacco prevention efforts.  When conducting a community assessment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests​ starting with the following questions:​


​“Who” Question:

  • ​Who is in the population​?​

“What” Questi​ons:

  • What are the rates of tobacco use and secondhand smoke/vapor exposure among the population?
  • What are the rates of tobacco initiation and cessation?
  • What does the population view as the main issue, and what should be done about it?
  • ​What tobacco control messages resonate with the community? What venues are best to communicate messages?
  • What barriers make it difficult for the population to make tobacco control a priority?​

“How” Questions:

  • ​How does the tobacco industry target the population?
  • How can tobacco control messages be most relevant to the population?

The California Healthy Kids Survey​ (CHKS) is a rich data source for health equity issues. The dashboard helps disaggregate data based on certain groups. The questions above can then be used as a guide to identify and plan activities to address the unmet health disparity needs of students.

To learn more, check out the CDC's Best Practices User Guide for achieving "Health Equity in Tobacco Prevention and Control," found below in the resources section of this page.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 Additional Resources

San Francisco State University He​alth Equity Institute (HEI)

Visit the homepage of the HEI to access health equity resources from scholars, students, and communities working together for hea​lth and social justice​.

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Promoting Health Equity

Download this workbook from the CDC that provides information and tools to develop, impl​ement, and evaluate interventions that address social determinant​s of health equity.

Health Equity in Tobacco Prevention and Control

Download this Best Practices User Guide from the CDC which focuses on how comprehensive tobacco control programs can work to achieve health equity in tobacco prevention and control.​​​​​​​

National Equity Project

The National Equity Project is a leadership and systems change organization committed to increasing the capacity of people to achieve thriving, self-determining, educated, and just communities. Visit the website to access resources and tools, to promote equity.

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