Diversity of Hispanic Smokers


Surveys have suggested that a relatively small proportion of U.S. Latino and Hispanic adults smoke, but that prevalence can vary by 3-fold from group to group, depending on country of origin, say researchers who studied data on 16,322 participants in the National Institutes of Health Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.

In the cross-sectional survey, conducted from 2008 to 2011, participants recruited from Bronx, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida; and San Diego, California answered questions about their smoking habits.

Puerto Rican and Cuban adults had the highest prevalence of smoking: 35% and 33%, for Puerto Rican men and women, respectively; 31% and 22% for Cuban men and women, respectively. Dominicans had the lowest rates of smoking (11% for men, 12% for women).

Among other groups, where smoking rates fell intermediately between the aforementioned populations, men tended to have higher rates of smoking than did women. For instance, Mexican American men living in Chicago and San Diego had similar rates of smoking, whereas Mexican women in San Diego had significantly higher rates than did women in Chicago (12% vs 8%; P = .05).

The analysis also revealed “substantial variation” in smoking intensity by background. Smoking intensity (number of cigarettes smoked per day) was highest among the Cuban daily smokers; half of the men and more than one-third of the women reported smoking ≥ 20 cigarettes every day. By contrast, only 7% of Mexican men and 4% of Mexican women reported that level of smoking.

But researchers found that intermittent (nondaily) smoking was also commonly reported. For instance, 16% of Mexican men, 10% of Central American men, and 9% of Puerto Rican men said they didn’t smoke every day.

Nonetheless, “intermittent” smoking could still be a lot of smoking. More than one-fifth of intermittent smokers reported having smoked ≥ 20 days in the previous month. The authors say physicians need to recognize that this is a pattern worth looking for, because even intermittent smokers are at risk for tobacco-related illnesses.

Kaplan RC, Bangdiwala SI, Barnhart JM, et al. Am J Prev Med. 2014;46(5):496-506.
doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.01.014.

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