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Latino Daily News

Wednesday December 22, 2010

Minorities More Likely to be Occasional Smokers

Though the anti-smoking efforts have been successful in lowering the smoking rate in California, a new study shows that the number of occasional or non-daily smokers has nearly doubled.

Tobacco use is still most common among the African-American population with 14.2 percent being smokers, and 8.1 percent of Asians and 10.2 percent of Latinos smoking.

The study, out of the University of California San Francisco, states that two-thirds of California’s smokers are light or non-daily smokers. Light smokers are considered to be anyone that smokes 10 or fewer cigarettes a day.

Dr. Rebecca Schane, a professor of medicine at UCSF, says one reason for the increased percentage of light/occasional smoking is that the state has become better and identifying these smokers. She also says the increase could be due to the indoor smoking bans and exorbitant cigarette taxes curbing smokers’ consumption.

Schane also points out that minorities are more likely to be occasional smokers than their white counterparts, and that women are more likely than men to be light smokers and tend to think smoking occasionally is safer than regular, frequent smoking. In reality, Eliseo Perez-Stable of UCSF says, is that the health risks are just as high.

“If you smoke one or two cigarettes a day, it’s similar to someone who smokes 20 cigarettes a day,” said Perez-Stable, speaking to the risks such as heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

He adds that not much is known about how to help occasional/light smokers quit.

“Nobody who smokes at that level [as low as five cigarettes a day] has ever been studied for a cessation study,” he said. “They’re not eligible, no one would taken them to a study. That’s really a flaw.”

It seems California’s health officials have to find a way to help people that would probably say, “I don’t really smoke,” quit something they possibly don’t see as a problem.