Why Do Latinos Have a Harder Time Quitting Cigarettes?


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Latino adults smoke cigarettes at a lower rate (12.1%) than their white peers (19.4%).

However, once they’ve started, Latinos are more likely to keep smoking and only half as likely as whites to successfully quit smoking, according to the UCSF Smoking Cessation Leadership Center.

Experts say the reasons why fewer Latinos quit is complex.

“You’re looking at a population with fewer alternatives to cope,” David Williams, a public-health professor at Harvard University, told whyy.org. “That makes it harder for them to give up that aid.”

‘Hard to Quit’ Reason: Little Access to Help

Latino smokers lack access to support for quitting smoking.

They have the lowest rate of health insurance coverage among racial/ethnic groups. They also experience lower levels of practitioner intervention and physician advice to quit.

“Though Hispanic/Latino smokers have high motivation to quit, with concern for health effects on children and the family as a primary motivator, they mostly rely on themselves for cessation, with little use of cessation medication and support services,” according to the UCSF data.

‘Hard to Quit’ Reason: No Supportive Environments

Latinos neighborhoods tend to have fewer smokefree regulations.

They also have a high concentration of retail tobacco outlets.

“While smoking has come down in the general population, the tobacco industry has been focusing more and more on holding onto people with less education and lower income” by handing out cigarettes in housing projects, issuing tobacco coupons with food stamps, and fighting attempts at regulation, UCSF’s Stanton Glantz told whyy.org.

Latinos also often have less access to quit counseling and nicotine replacement therapy due to income or location.

And counseling doesn’t work as well without nicotene replacement therapy, and vice versa.

“Higher levels of stress experienced by these communities also can make them more likely to turn to cigarettes for the relief nicotine can offer,” Williams told whyy.org.

‘Hard to Quit’ Reason: Misinformation

Tobacco companies often sponsor cultural events. This means everything from a Mexican rodeo to Cinco de Mayo festivities to activities for Hispanic Heritage Month, UCSF says.

E-cigarettes are often advertised as quitting aids.

But an increasing amount of data show that e-cigs don’t help people quit, while vaping today may lead to smoking tomorrow among teens, according to HealthDay reports.

From 2017 to 2018, e-cig use rose 78% among high-schoolers and 48% among middle-schoolers. More than two-thirds are using flavored e-cigarettes.

The FDA is making a series of new enforcement and regulatory steps to crack down on JUUL e-cigarettes among youth. This is big for Latinos who are increasingly using e-cigs.

Federal officials also revealed plans to ban cool, minty menthol flavoring from traditional cigarettes as part of a larger push to curb vaping and smoking in young people.

Get Help to Quit Smoking with Quitxt Program

Digital help exists for those needing help to quit smoking.


Quitxt is a free bilingual text-message service that turns your mobile phone into a personal “quit smoking” coach.

It uses interactive and entertaining texts, online support, and music and videos from researchers the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, the team behind Salud America!.

The service’s text messages help with motivation to quit, setting a quit date, finding things to do instead of smoking, handling stress, and more.

To join Quitxt in Spanish, text “lodejo” to 57682 or visit quitxt.org/spanish.

To join Quitxt in English, text “iquit” to 57682 or visit quitxt.org/.

A recent study of Quitxt found that text and mobile-media service specifically designed for young adults provide a feasible and potentially cost-effective approach to promoting cessation.

“There’s no better time than now to get help from Quitxt,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, study leader and director or Quitxt and Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. “Quitting smoking is proven to improve your health, increase your life span, and save money.”

Use our Quitxt text-message program to help you quit smoking today!


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