PEOPLE FROM RACIAL AND ETHNIC
Adult and youth tobacco use rates and related smoking-caused death rates vary considerably among different racial and ethnic groups in the United States.1
This page highlights a range of resources that showcase tobacco use and nicotine dependence within different racial and ethnic minority groups, the long-documented history of the tobacco industry's racist roots and targeted marketing, and the role that menthol products play in the disproportionate rates of use these communities now face.
Below are curated resources from trusted sources and leading organizations in the tobacco and health space. Use these to educate yourself, others, or to inform action you take in your community to advance health equity and tobacco prevention work. These resources will be updated so check back often!
Whether you are a provider or a student, there is something for everyone here. If you have any recommended resources you’d like to see included in this list, please send them our way.
Definitions to Help You Navigate:
- Quitline – a broad term that includes the following free resources designed to help individuals quit smoking: telephone counseling, self-help materials, nicotine patches and online help offered in a variety of languages.
- Toolkit – a broad term referring to a collection of tobacco resources such as research, briefs, reports, services/programs, and best practices.
Whenever Rhode Island resources are not listed, this is because there is not currently anything available. However, TFRI and partners are working on it. Reach out for more information.
American Indian and Alaskan Native Communities
American Indians and Alaskan Natives use tobacco more than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Commercial tobacco use is distinct from the cultural traditions involving tobacco that are central to many indigenous communities.2
These communities consider traditional tobacco a symbol for peace and healing and a sacred gift of the earth and use it in medicinal and spiritual ceremonies and for instructional purposes. The use of “tobacco” throughout this webpage refers to commercial tobacco use;3 commercial tobacco is manufactured by companies for recreational and habitual use in cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars, hookahs, and other products, it is mass-produced and sold for profit.4
Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Communities
Asian Americans have the lowest cigarette smoking rates compared with other racial and ethnic groups. However, tobacco use rates vary within Asian American subgroups.5
Distinct differences in smoking rates between subgroups might be attributable to variations in socioeconomic status, exposure to targeted advertising, and attitudes toward tobacco use.6
The Black Community
The tobacco industry has targeted the Black Community and strategically marketed its products to appeal to them for decades, including placing more advertising in predominantly Black neighborhoods and in publications that are popular with Black audiences.7
The most striking example is menthol cigarettes, which are easier to smoke and harder to quit using. Today, nearly 90% of all Black smokers use menthol cigarettes, and more than 39,000 Black Americans die from tobacco-related cancers each year.8
Menthol cigarettes disproportionately harm Black Americans. Among Black Americans over 1980-2018, menthol cigarettes were responsible for 1.5 million new smokers, 157,000 smoking-related premature deaths and 1.5 million life-years lost, according to a 2021 study published in Tobacco Control.9
While Black Americans constitute 12% of the total U.S. population, these figures represent, respectively, 15%, 41% and 50% of the total menthol cigarette-related harm.10
The Hispanic/Latino Community
Individuals of Hispanic/Latino descent comprise 18.3% (60 million) of the U.S. population.11 Nearly 1 in 10 Hispanic/Latino adults currently smoke cigarettes — lower than the national smoking rate of 13.7%.12 However, studies have shown the prevalence varies significantly between subgroups from specific countries or regions, with Puerto Rican adults having the highest smoking rates and Dominicans having the lowest smoking rates.13
Results also indicate Hispanic/Latino adults who were born in the U.S. have higher smoking rates — likely related to increased acculturation, which additional research has found to be linked with increased smoking prevalence.14
Thank you to the above organizations for providing information to the public at no cost and working to advance health equity in tobacco prevention and treatment work.