Study Suggests Minorities Smoke Less, But Find Quitting Harder

New research suggests that smoking is less prevalent in communities of color, and, among those who smoke, racial and ethnic “minorities” are more likely to be “light” smokers — but may find it harder to quit, UPI reported Mar. 9.

The study relied on census data from adults age 20 to 64. Among other things, the results showed that fewer African Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and Latinos had ever taken up smoking compared with non-Hispanic Whites. Racial and ethnic “minorities” were more likely than Whites to be light smokers.

The study also found that light smokers may have just as hard a time as heavy smokers quitting.

Although racial and ethnic minorities were just as likely as Whites to be told to quit smoking by health professionals, they were less likely to use nicotine replacement therapy. According to the study abstract, “significantly fewer African Americans reported long-term quitting.”

“Our understanding of how to get people to quit smoking has been based on those who were the heaviest smokers, that is, those who smoked a pack a day or more,” said Dennis Trinidad, of Claremont Graduate University’s School of Community and Global Health. “Now, as the smoking population shifts to include more light smokers, we may need to look for better ways to help them stop.”

The study, “A Nationwide Analysis of US Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Smoking Behaviors, Smoking Cessation, and Cessation-Related Factors,” was published online on Feb. 17, 2011, in the American Journal of Public Health.

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