Latinos, Asians Smoke More After Migrating To US, New Study Says

Latino Smoking Statistics: New Study Finds Cigarette Use Highest Among Puerto Ricans And Cubans In US [EXCLUSIVE] Shutterstock/Ehab Edward

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading causes of death for Hispanics/Latinos in the United States is cigarette smoking. And among the smoking Hispanic/Latino population, smoking is more prevalent in the male population (17 percent) than women (8.6 percent).

In a new Rice University study, published in journal "Social Science & Medicine," researchers have discovered a unique correlation with being an immigrant and smoking habit. Mainly, Latino immigrants (and Asian immigrants) were more likely to smoke and the longer they stayed in the United States, the more often they engaged in the life-threatening habit.

“We know that after migrants come to the U.S., their health behavior and health status changes the longer they live in the United States,” said Bridget Gorman, chair and professor of sociology at Rice and the study’s lead author, in a university released statement. “Our study examined how time spent in the U.S., along with other aspects reflective of acculturation to the U.S., relates to smoking behavior among Asian and Latino migrants.”

The study, titled "Gender, Acculturation and Smoking Behavior Among U.S. Asian and Latino Immigrants," also found that Latino immigrant men were twice as likely to smoke than Latino immigrant women. The silver lining found from the study is that when these immigrants got a better grasp of the English language and assimilated with the local culture, there was a reduction in smoking. Why is that the case? The authors note that “immigrants who form strong connections to the U.S. through English-language proficiency and citizenship acquisition benefit in terms of reduced smoking.”

A recent cross-sectional survey study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, broke down the adult Hispanic/Latino smokers aged 18-74 by subgroups (e.g. age, gender, national background, SES, birthplace). From their analysis, the researchers found that the highest smoking rates were found in Puerto Ricans (men, 35 percent; women, 32.6 percent) and Cubans (men, 31.3 percent; women, 21.9 percent), and the lowest rates amongst Dominicans (men, 11 percent; women, 11.7 percent).

The disparity in smoking rates between Hispanic/Latino men and women is consistent with the findings of a 2008 study, which found that smoking among Hispanic/Latino women is much lower than the rates seen among women of other races as well as Hispanic men. That said, the new study found that most of the Hispanic/Latino women that smoked were born in the U.S. and had a higher level of acculturation to the dominant U.S. culture.

The study also found that smoking was more common with those of lower socio-economic status and they were more likely to smoke and less likely to quit the habit. Amongst young Mexican men, non-daily smoking was commonly found, hinting that a social factor may play into casual smoking.

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Susmita Baral

Susmita Baral joined Latin Times in April 2013. Her work has been published in VICE, Weight Watchers Magazine, Unique Homes Magazine, US Airways Magazine, Vista Magazine, Daily Glow and Kaplan. She holds a B.A. Psychology from Rutgers University. A self-proclaimed foodie, Susmita is a freelance list maker, part-time Shaq devotee, and a full-time eyeliner junkie who believes mac and cheese is a birthright.