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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Thing About African American Smokers is That They are Less Likely to...

African American smoker

Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers have found that there are significant differences in smoking habits between blacks, whites and other racial groups.

Black smokers are less likely to ...

The largest group of smokers consists of American Indian and Alaskan Natives, followed by whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. What is interesting about black smokers, according to data from 1965 to 2012, is that they are less likely to:
  • Start smoking early - they are less likely to start smoking as teens, compared to white smokers
  • Quit smoking - they are less likely to quit smoking than whites as they grow older
  • Smoke as much - they are less likely to smoke as much as whites. Blacks tend to smoke fewer packs of cigarettes a day than whites
  • Have lung cancer screening - because blacks smoke fewer cigarettes a day than whites, they are less likely to receive lung cancer screening

Higher risk of death

So, why do blacks have a higher risk of death from lung cancer due to smoking? They may smoke fewer cigarettes a day and start smoking later, but they are also less likely to quit smoking later in life. This means they have a longer exposure to cigarette smoke than white smokers. This puts them at a higher mortality rate due to lung cancer and other smoke-related diseases.

In addition, blacks are less likely to be screened for lung cancer, which also puts them at greater risk for tobacco-related death. A recent study done at the Yale School of Public Health suggests the need to take a closer look at the differences in smoking patterns among blacks and whites in order to provide more lifesaving interventions for at-risk black smokers.

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