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As Latino individuals become more acculturated to the English language and U.S. culture, their cigarette use tends to rise, according to a study on cigarette consumption behaviors among the Latino community.
The National Institute on Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD) -supported research found that this trend occurs particularly among Latino men, and that cigarette consumption also varies based on educational attainment.
Let’s dive into what the numbers look like for Latino smokers and what these study results mean for smoking prevention in this population.
Latinos and Language Acculturation
Acculturation is defined as “the process of two cultures blending, generally seen when an immigrant or minority culture acclimates with the dominant culture.”
For Latinos, language acculturation impacts both the diversity of languages and culture.
Latinos can experience language acculturation as immigrants coming to the United States or growing up with immigrant parents and family.
In 2021, 72% of Latinos in the U.S. age 5 and older spoke English proficiently, up from 59% in 2000, according to the Pew Research Center. English proficiency has somewhat increased for Latino immigrants as well (37%).
While there can be benefits to language acculturation, like growth and advancement opportunities in careers and jobs, this recent study on cigarette intake shows that there can be negative impacts, particularly for some groups of Latinos.
For example, higher language-acculturated males had lower odds of quitting both daily and non-daily smoking.
The study also found that as education attainment increased, there was a greater increase in cigarettes-per-day and lower odds of quitting for certain Latino heritage groups.
Further, “Some Hispanic/Latino heritages may acculturate to U.S. mainstream society more or less than average, which may subsequently influence cigarette consumption behaviors,” the study reported.
Young Latinos may also be at a higher risk for smoking behavior.
Study results showed that individuals with greater language acculturation were significantly younger and were more likely to be U.S.-born compared to individuals with less language acculturation.
The study emphasizes the importance of tailoring smoking prevention and cessation strategies for the Latino and Hispanic community with language and culture in mind, as well as other acculturation factors.
“Future studies should consider multidimensional measures of acculturation, acculturative stress, and other social determinants of health,” according to the study.
The Consequences of Smoking
About 1 in 13 (8%) of U.S. Latino adults smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s only slightly less compared to the general population of 11.5% estimated people that smoke cigarettes in the United States.
Despite being as successful at quitting as “Non-Hispanic Whites,” study research found that Latino heritage groups are also less likely to receive information on quitting smoking.
This is partially because of racially targeted advertising, but not culturally tailored quitting programs or advice.
“Tobacco companies have a history of targeting racial and ethnic minorities, including the Latino population,” according to a Salud America! resource.
Smoking can cause numerous health issues including cancer and cardiovascular disease, which further contribute to the many health disparities that plague Latinos.
Quitting smoking can greatly benefit Latinos and their health by lowering blood pressure, lowering the future risk of cancer and reducing chances of a heart attack, stroke, and cataracts.
“While quitting earlier in life yields greater health benefits, quitting smoking is beneficial to health at any age. Even people who have smoked for many years or have smoked heavily will benefit from quitting,” according to the CDC.
Secondhand smoke can also cause an array of health issues for those exposed and around others who smoke regularly.
“Quitting smoking is the single best way to protect family members, coworkers, friends, and others from the health risks associated with breathing secondhand smoke,” according to the CDC.
Quit Smoking with Quitxt
Searching for a convenient and free program that will help you quit smoking?
Look no further than Quitxt!
Quitxt is a bilingual service from UT Health San Antonio and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas that sends texts messages to smartphones to help South Texas adults quit smoking.
Messages from Quitxt help with motivation to quit, setting a quit date, handling stress, and using nicotine replacement, if needed.
To join Quitxt in English, text “iquit” to 844-332-2058.
For Spanish, text “lodejo” to 844-332-2058.
More than 1 in 5 Quitxt users fully quit smoking after completing the English version of the program, according to a 2017 study.
“There’s no better time than now to stop smoking with help from Quitxt,” said Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. “Quitting smoking is proven to improve your health, increase your life span, and save money.”
Visit the Quitxt website for more information and tools in both English and Spanish that can help you or someone you know quit smoking today!