May 092004
 
Authors: Gabe Heise

Kathleen Kelly is excited to help Latino youth stop smoking.

Kelly, a marketing professor for CSU’s College of Business,

received a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

to study tobacco prevention for Latino youth.

Recent studies done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human

Services have found an increase in the tobacco use among Latino

adolescents.

Kelly has been working to stop the increase of tobacco use among

Latino youth. She said a possible reason for the increase is a

“double dose of advertisement” in many Mexican-border towns.

Much of Kelly’s research is focused on border communities where

teens get advertisements aimed at the Latino community as well as

advertisements aimed at the non-minority community.

Latino youths may also be more likely to begin smoking as they

acculturate to an American lifestyle, Kelly said.

Kelly and her co-workers are working to find what kind of

advertising will counteract the tobacco industry’s advertising.

Language is one of Kelly’s more important research topics.

Researchers are trying to discover which language would best

communicate to the youths they are trying to reach: Spanish,

English or possibly Spanglish?

Spanglish is a term used to describe the mix between English and

Spanish. Though this may not be grammatically correct, it may be

the best way to help teens learn, Kelly said.

“Many kids tend to speak this way and it may be the language

that gets results,” Kelly said. “We need to find the language that

will resonate most with them.”

The research funded by the grant will start next spring and will

focus on youth from border communities.

The researchers plan to expose some of the teens to Spanish

advertising, some to English and some to Spanglish. They will

collect reactions, opinions and attitudes on each and compare the

results, as well as collect data on their current smoking

habits.

“It’s a great opportunity to educate teens about the dangers of

tobacco,” said Rich Salas, assistant director of El Centro Student

Services. “I applaud her efforts.”

“This grant will help a lot,” Kelly said. “The information will

help guide a critical issue and develop a lot of educational

material.”

Kelly is hoping to expand her project beyond just border

communities.

“I’m hoping to generalize my research to different areas –

expanding it from the border communities to other places it could

possibly have a positive effect on, such as Northern Colorado,” she

said.

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