FACT SHEET: Hispanic Adults & Tobacco
Prepared in 1999 by: The Center for Social Gerontology, Ann Arbor, MI
Prevalence of tobacco use:
- In 1995, 18.9% of adult Hispanics smoked cigarettes (males and females). Thus, of approximately 17.3 million adult Hispanics in 1995, almost 3.3 million were smokers, or about 6.9% of the 47 adult million smokers in the U.S. Hispanics of all ages (adults and youth) in 1995 made up 10.1% of the overall U.S. population.
- Cigarette smoking among adult Hispanic males dropped from 37.6% in 1978 to 22.9% in 1995, and smoking among adult Hispanic females dropped from 23.3% to 15.1%; reflecting the overall smoking decline in America during that period and the slower decline among women than men. While studies have shown some variations in smoking rates among Hispanics depending on their ethnicity, e.g., Mexican, Cuban or Puerto Rican, smoking rates among Hispanic men and women are generally lower than white, African American and Native American men and women.
- The cigarette smoking rate among older Hispanics is consistently lower than younger Hispanic adults. Hispanics aged 55 and over (male and female rates combined) in 1978 was 22.9% and dropped to 14.3% in 1995, whereas smoking rates among Hispanic adults aged 18 to 54 dropped from about 31% in 1978 to 19.8% in 1995. Smoking rates for Hispanics 65 and over were not available. The likelihood of being a former smoker increased with age and educational attainment, with persons aged 70 and over much more likely to be former smokers than those aged 65-69 or younger.
- Cigar and pipe smoking among adult Hispanic men in the early 1990's was 2.1% and 1.0% respectively; rates more than twice as low as white males and almost twice as low as African Americans. However, rates of Cuban American men were somewhat higher than other Hispanic men for both cigar (2.5%) and pipe smoking (2.6%). Use of chewing tobacco or snuff was 1.5%, versus 6.8% among white men; the rate among Hispanic and Asian American males was substantially lower than Native American and African American rates. Among Hispanics, whites and other minorities, except African Americans, use of chewing tobacco or snuff was overwhelmingly a male habit; and among all these groups, cigar smoking among adult women was negligible.
Health and mortality consequences of tobacco use:
- Virtually all cases of lung cancer are attributable to cigarette smoking. While data on lung cancer among Hispanics is not that comprehensive, it appears that currently lung cancer rates among Hispanic men are about half the rate of white males and about 1/3 the rate of African American males. Rates among Hispanic women appear to be about 1/3 those of both white and African American women. Overall, the lower Hispanic rates seem to reflect differences in smoking between Hispanics and white and African Americans, including possibly lower numbers of cigarettes smoked daily.
- Smoking causes cancers of the lung, larynx, mouth, esophagus and bladder, and is a contributing factor for cancers of the pancreas, kidney and cervix. In almost all of these cancers, both the incidence and death rates of African American males are higher than among white and other minority males, including Hispanics, and in many cases substantially higher.
Data in this Fact Sheet has been taken from the following: Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1998; "Cigarette Smoking & Smoking Cessation Among Older Adults: United States, 1965-94" by C.G. Husten et al in Tobacco Control, Autumn, 1997. "Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life lost -- U.S., 1984," in MMWR, May 23. 1997. Population Projections of the U.S. by Age, Sex, Race, & Hispanic Origin: 1995-2050, published by the U.S. Census Bureau, 1996.