The American Lung Association Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) is a time in our country to recognize the contributions and influence of Latinos, whose ancestors come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.

This observance first started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. It was later expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.1 The mid-month timeframes are significant because September 15 is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period.

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Lung Association is proud to present a “Spotlight Series” of Latino Trailblazers and Lung Health Leaders from across the country who make considerable impacts to the Lung Association’s mission and who have contributed to the effort to eliminate lung disease in their community.

Please join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, by learning more about our Latino Trailblazers, lung health statistics, and specially designed resources available to support the lung health of Latinos throughout the country.

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EACH Breath Blog: Researcher Taps into Hispanic Heritage to Halt Vaping among Latino Teens

As a new member of the American Lung Association’s research team, Francisco Cartujano, M.D., received our 2021-2022 Catalyst Award for his project, “Kick Vaping: A Vaping Cessation Text Messaging Intervention for Latino Young Adults.” The project aims to develop and evaluate the practicality and effectiveness of his Kick Vaping initiative, a text messaging intervention to help Latino young adults stop vaping.

We spoke to Dr. Cartujano about his research and how his Mexican roots shaped his work.

Read the full blog.

To learn more about our research and researchers, visit:

Spotlight Series 2021: Latino Trailblazers and Lung Health Leaders

Lt. Jeanette Harrington

As the youngest child of 4, Jeannette is the daughter of a Puerto Rican Father and a Panamanian mother, both which strongly influenced her upbringing and her love for her Hispanic heritage. Jeanette’s drive to serve her community led her to a career in public service. For the past 18 ½ years she has worked as a Firefighter/Paramedic for Miami Dade Fire Rescue and now serves in the rank of lieutenant; an achievement that does not come easy for a Hispanic female. Lt. Harrington says that Hispanic Heritage Month reminds her of deep-rooted traditions, values and heritage. This includes a strong work ethic that her Puerto Rican father instilled in her, and her family values imparted by her mother. That sense of family was what drove her to become involved with the American Lung Association. "Mi familia is not only my father, mother, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but also everyone I have become close to throughout the years, especially at work," said Lt. Harrington. "Many of my firefighter family members have been impacted by lung disease, a hazard of our job. I became involved with ALA in 2015 after a dear childhood friend’s mother was diagnosed with emphysema, and ultimately passed away.” Since then, Lt. Harrington’s commitment and involvement with the American Lung Association has been unwavering. In fact, just this year, Jeanette was recognized as the highest fundraising firefighter in the nation (personally raising almost $10,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic; bringing her total fundraising efforts to almost $40,000).

Yeimi Gagliardi

Colombian native Yeimi (Jamie) Gagliardi works to ensure Latinos are aware of health risks associated with tobacco use and services available to help people quit for good. Yeimi is WellSpan Health’s Latino Health Educator and co-chair of the Latino Services Task Force and Tobacco Prevention Task Force of Adams County, PA. Yeimi has served as an American Lung Association Freedom From Smoking Facilitator since 2012. Over the past decade, Yeimi has witnessed firsthand the impact Freedom From Smoking group clinics make in the lives of so many underserved families. In her own words: “Over the last decade I have proudly served as an FFS Facilitator delivering classes to hundreds of community members across Adams County, Pennsylvania. American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program has allowed our friends, families and colleagues struggling to break their lifelong addiction, to understand and access resources to help them overcome the physical, mental and behavioral challenges of their tobacco use dependency. Freedom From Smoking isn’t just about quitting, it’s about creating a “New You” and connecting participants with those services which will ultimately lay the foundation for leading healthier lifestyles. Freedom From Smoking doesn’t stop at quitting tobacco use, it serves as a community connector engaging individuals in a variety of supportive programs we offer such as 5-K, free walking events, nutrition and physical activity programs, volunteering and advocacy programs that look to improve the lifelong wellness of our residents and help them continue to be engage to continue tobacco free lifestyles. Additionally, we are able to offer this program in Spanish and create a bridge for our communities to interact and participate in multicultural prevention initiatives. Freedom From Smoking provides hope and serves as a community service connector among so many individuals who are underserved”.

Latino Coordinating Center

The Latino Coordinating Center for a Tobacco-Free California (LCC), a program of the California Health Collaborative in partnership with the University of Southern California, assists regional projects in adopting and implementing policies and affecting system changes that reduce tobacco-related disparities among the Latino population in California. LCC's primary services include establishing a statewide Advisory Committee of Latino leaders that guides and supports the programs goals of advancing policy and systems change efforts led by regional projects, develop policy platforms that identify policies and system change priorities with the intent to prevent and reduce tobacco’s impact in California’s Latino population, create publications and develop materials in Spanish that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, and collaborate with partners throughout the state including the American Lung Association to ensure that tobacco control efforts are being done with the Latino community in mind.

Nuestras Voces Network

Nuetras Voces (Our Voices) Network logo

The National Alliance for Hispanic Health’s Nuestras Voces (Our Voices) Network Program works to develop and implement public health strategies to effectively address the threats of commercial tobacco use and reduce the impact of tobacco related cancers on the nation’s health and wellbeing. With a particular focus on reducing disparities in underserved Hispanic communities, community-based members provide culturally congruent and linguistically appropriate evidence-based cessation strategies and services to more than 15 million Hispanics throughout the U.S. every year and national organization members provide services to more than 100 million people annually.  

Throughout 2021, Nuestras Voces has been working with the American Lung Association to increase access to tailored materials and interventions by reviewing and adapting into Spanish downloadable tobacco-free facility materials, as well as the INDEPTH program’s facilitator’s guide to further increase access to evidence-based program resources. Nuestras Voces also served as the moderator for the Lung Association’s community Town Hall: COVID-19, lo que usted quiere saber that took place in January 2021.  

Angela Webb, M.D.

Dr. Angela Webb is a pediatric pulmonologist, an asthma champion, and one of the lead providers with ALA’s NY State Asthma Team’s Project BREATHE NY. Dr. Webb has been instrumental in improving health outcomes for the 650 BREATHE patients diagnosed with asthma followed in NYU Langone’s pediatric clinic in Hempstead, NY, with a patient population that is 58% Hispanic. (Hempstead’s Emergency Department Visit and Hospitalization rates are the highest in Nassau County and among the highest statewide.) Dr. Webb also sees patients in the NYU Langone Ambulatory Care Center’s Pulmonology practice.

Dr. Webb is a committed advocate for her patients within the healthcare and insurance systems and in the community. Dr. Webb is a trusted provider in a community whose residents struggle with various social determinants of health. She is not only a pediatric Spanish speaking pulmonologist but, more importantly, provides her patients and their families with culturally appropriate care that helps them to overcome barriers and encourages and empowers them to manage their child’s asthma.

Understanding Viruses and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Infectious respiratory diseases such as influenza, COVID-19, and pertussis spread from person to person. Learn, in Spanish, how your body fights back against these pathogens and some of the common side effects that you may experience as your immune system attacks.

Learn the basics about Los Virus Respiratorios

Learn about Antivirales para tratar a los Virus Respiratorios

"Poder E Inmunidad: Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Right for You?"

In partnership with the League of United Latin American Citizens, this resource guide “Better for It”, shares science-based information to start a conversation about vaccination, in your community. Click HERE to download the toolkit.

Desarrollado en asociación con la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos, esta guía de recursos “Better For It”, comparte información basada en la ciencia, para iniciar conversaciones en su comunidad. Haga clic AQUI para accesso al toolkit.

American Lung Association Programs and Resources In Spanish

Better Breathers Club and Member Resources in Spanish

The American Lung Association Better Breathers Network is a nationwide, online patient support program providing lung disease management tools and virtual support groups. Anyone can join the Better Breathers Network. Signing up for the network is free and will provide you direct access to education, support and connection to others also living with chronic lung disease. Additionally, there are resources to support our Spanish-speaking Better Breathers Club members and their caregivers. From phone and online support tools, to educational videos and self-management action plans, the American Lung Association has numerous assets that have been translated into Spanish. Click HERE to access these resources.

Haga clic AQUI para accesso recursos en Español sobre el salud pulmonar.

Saved By the Scan / Salva Tu Pulmon

“Saved By The Scan” is the only national public service advertising (PSA) campaign to educate Americans about the groundbreaking lung cancer screening for those at high risk for the disease. The low-dose CT scan can detect lung cancer in the early stages, before symptoms arise, when the disease is more curable.

To extend the campaign’s message further and reach Hispanic audiences who may be at risk for lung cancer, the American Lung Association and Ad Council released a Spanish language version of the campaign and screening eligibility quiz, with corresponding website, located at ( in English).

Haga clic AQUI para accesso recursos sobre el examen de pulmón.

Lung Health & the Latino Community

3.8 Million+ Over 3.8 million Latinos in the U.S. have asthma.
35% 35% of Latinos prefer menthols compared to 23% of white Americans.
11.9% Smoking rates are also higher among Latinos born in the U.S. at 11.9% compared to those born in other countries at 8.3%.


Hispanics are twice as likely to visit the emergency department for asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic whites. Hispanic children are twice as likely to die from asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic whites.4

Tobacco-Related Cancer Deaths

More than 43,000 Latinos are diagnosed with a tobacco-related cancer each year and more than 18,000 die from a tobacco-related cancer each year. 6


18.9 percent of Hispanic high school students currently use e-cigarettes, which is lower than the rate of White students (23.2%), but higher than the e-cigarette use rate for African American students (9.1%). Overall, nearly one in four (23.3%) Hispanic high school students are current users of any tobacco product.


  1. History of Hispanic Heritage Month
  2. Asthma decrease trends. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 2001-2017. Harmonized by Minnesota Population Center and State Health Access Data Assistance Center. Integrated Health Interview Series data analyzed by the American Lung Association Research and Program Services Division.)
  3. Asthma rates among Puerto Ricans (2016-2018 NHIS)
  4. Hispanic Children Asthma rates
  5. Menthol smoking rates
  6. Tobacco Related Cancer Deaths. Tobacco Free Kids.
  7. 2020 Latino Trailblazers

Page last updated: September 23, 2021

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