Smoking is responsible for one of every five deaths in the United States. Moreover, it is the single most important preventable cause of death in our society. (l,l0)
More black Americans smoke cigarettes, over other tobacco products, than their white counterparts. Although the smoking rate for blacks is higher than for white smokers, black smokers smoke fewer cigarettes per day. Black smokers suffer from a higher incidence of smoking-related illnesses than white smokers.
The following summarizes the most recent smoking information for African Americans in the United States
Recent studies demonstrate that cigarette smoking behaviors vary by race and by sex.
Cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among blacks, as they are among the general population. However, blacks do use other forms of tobacco. (3)
The prevalence for pipe smoking is the same for black and white men (3.4%).
More white men (5.6%) smoke cigars than do black men (4.0%).
Black men (3.4%) use chewing tobacco less than white men (4.2%).
More black women (1.7%) chew tobacco than white women (0.1 %).
White men use snuff at a rate of 3.3%, compared with a 1.1 % rate for black men.
Among black women, 2.2% use snuff whereas only 0.3% of white women use this product.
Smoking prevalence varies by occupational category. Smoking rates are generally higher in male and female blue-collar workers than in their white-collar counterparts. In 1987, 26.1 % of whitecollar men and 26.6% of whitecollar women smoked cigarettes. Among blue-collar workers, 42.1
% of men and 36.6% of women smoked during that year.(6) (Note: blacks of both sexes are more concentrated in blue-collar occupations.)
The National Health Interview Survey 1978-1980 revealed a relationship between smoking
behavior and occupations. Among men, blue-collar workers had considerably higher smoking
rates than white-collar workers within each racial group, and black male bluecollar workers
exhibited the highest smoking rate (52.1 %). Among black women, there was little difference in
smoking prevalence between occupations. However, among white women, the expected white-collar, blue-collar, service worker differences prevailed; bluecollar and service workers were more
likely to smoke (39.6% and 38.7%, respectively) than white collar workers (32.0%).(7)
Black workers are considerably less likely than their white counterparts to be heavy smokers (smoke 20 or more cigarettes daily). This trend holds true for all categories of workers and for men and women.(7)
Blacks experience excessive mortality for many tobacco-related cancers.
In 1988, nearly 48,000 black Americans died from smoking-attributable causes-these are deaths that could have been prevented.(10) (Table 3)
The rate of smoking-attributable deaths is higher among blacks than among whites (Table 4) .
Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control report that black Americans have not only a higher death rate from cigarette smoking than do whites, but have a greater loss of productive years of life.
Blacks tend to become ill from smoking at younger ages than do whites.(11)
In 1988, blacks lost an estimated 268,437 years of potential life to age 65 due to smoking. Whites lost an estimated 913,943 years.(10) (Note: The U.S. Census reported that black Americans comprised 12% of the total population in 1990).
Although whites lost more years in total, the rate of smoking attributable YPLL (before age 65 per 100,000 persons is greater than or equal to 35 years age) for blacks (2,472) was twice that for whites (1,225). (10)
1. Office On Smoking and Health. Reducing the health consequences of smoking: 25 years of
progress. A report of the Surgeon General. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1989. DHHS publication
2. Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. National Institute on Drug Abuse, National house-hold survey on drug abuse: population estimates 1988. Washington, D.C.:U.S. Department Of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, 1989. DHHS publication no. (ADM)89-1636.
3. Schoenborn CA, Boyd G. Smoking and other tobacco use: United States, 1987. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Center for Health Statistics, 1987. DHHS publication no. (PHS)89-1591. (Vital and health statistics, series 10, no. 169).
4. Office On Smoking and Health. Adult use of tobacco, 1986. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1989. DHHS publication no. (OM)90-2004.
5. Centers for Disease Control. Cigarette brand use among adult smokers-United States, 1986. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1990; 9:665, 671-673.
6. National Health Interview Survey, 287, Office on Smoking and Health, unpublished data.
7. Office On Smoking and Health. The health consequences of smoking: cancer and chronic lung disease in the workplace. A report of the Surgeon General. Washington, D.C.: U.S. apartment of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1985. HHS
publication no. (PHS)85-50207.
8. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, prevention profile 1989. Hyattsville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1990. DHHS publication no. (PHS)90-1232.
9. National Institutes of Health. Cancer statistics review 1973-87, surveillance, epidemiology, and end results report (SEER), 1978-81. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Cancer Institute, 1990. NIH publication no. (NIH)90-2789.
10. Centers for Disease Control. Smoking-attributable mortality and years of potential life lost-United States, 1988. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1990; 40:62-71.
11. Centers for Disease Control. Smoking-attributable mortality and years of potential life lost-United States, 1984. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1987; 36:693-697.
12. Niswander KR, Gordon M. The women and their pregnancies. The collaborative perinatal study of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, 1972. DHEW publication no. (NIH)73-379.
13. Mosher WD, Pratt, WF. Fecundity, infertility, and reproductive health in the United States, 1982. Washington, D.C.: Public Health Service, Government Printing Office, 1988. National Center for Health Statistics, 1988. DHHS publication no. (PHS)88-1591. (Vital and Health Statistics, series 2, no. 106).
14. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Monitoring the Future Project, 1989, Office On Smoking and Health, unpublished data.
15. Office On Smoking and Health. The health benefits of smoking cessation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office on Smoking and Health, 1990. DHHS publication no.(CDC)90-8416.
16. Fiore MC, Novotny TE, Pierce JP, Hatziandrea EJ, Patel KM, Davis RM Trends in cigarette smoking in the United States: the changing influence of gender and race. Journal of the American Medical Association 1989; 261:49-55.
17. Davis, RM. Current trends in cigarette advertising and marketing. New England Journal of Medicine 1987; 316:725-732.
18. Cummings KM, Giovino G, Mendicino AJ. Cigarette advertising and racial differences in cigarette brand preference. Public Health Reports 1987; 102:698-701.
19. Federal Trade Commission. Report to Congress for 1987 pursuant to the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Federal Trade Commission, 1989.
20. McMahon ET, Taylor PA. Citizens' action handbook on alcohol and tobacco billboard advertising. Washington, D.C.: Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1990.
21. Ramirez A. A cigarette campaign under fire. New York Times. 1990 Jan 12: Dl,D4.
22. California Department of Health Services. Tobacco use in California 1990: preliminary report documenting the decline of tobacco use. San Diego: University of California, 1990.
23. Marcus M, Glick D, Lewis SD. Fighting ads in the inner city: a grassroots baffle against 'minority marketing'. Newsweek. 1990 Feb 5:46.