African Americans and Tobacco

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    African Americans continue to suffer disproportionately from chronic and
    preventable disease compared with white Americans. Of the three leading causes
    of death in African Americans — heart disease, cancer, and stroke — smoking and
    other tobacco use are major contributors.

    Health Effects

    • Each year, approximately 45,000 African Americans die from a preventable
      smoking-related disease.
       
    • If current trends continue, an estimated 1.6 million African Americans who
      are now under the age of 18 years will become regular smokers. About 500,000 of
      those smokers will die of a smoking-related disease.
       
    • Smoking is responsible for 87% of lung cancers. African American men are at
      least 50% more likely to develop lung cancer than white men. African American
      men have a higher mortality rate of cancer of the lung and bronchus (100.8 per
      100,000) than do white men (70.1 per 100,000).
       
    • Stroke is associated with cerebrovascular disease and is a major cause of
      death in the United States. Smoking significantly elevates the risk of stroke.
      Cerebrovascular disease is twice as high among African American men (53.1 per
      100,000) as among white men (26.3 per 100,000) and twice as high among African
      American women (40.6 per 100,000) as among white women (22.6 per
      100,000).
       
    • Levels of serum cotinine (metabolized nicotine) are higher among African
      American smokers than among white or Mexican American smokers for the same
      number of cigarettes.

    Cigarette Smoking Prevalence

    • In 1997, current smoking prevalence rates were similar among African
      American adults (26.7%) and white adults (25.3%) in the United
      States.
       
    • In 1997, African American men (32.1%) smoked at a higher rate than white men
      (27.4%); African American women (22.4%) and white women (23.3%), however, smoked
      at a similar rate.
       
    • The decline of smoking among African American young people during the 1970s
      and 1980s was widely viewed as a great public health success. Unfortunately,
      recent national surveys have shown that smoking rates among African American
      high school students are starting to increase, although those rates are still
      lower than those for other students.
       
    • The 1999 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) estimates that  cigarette
      smoking prevalence during the past month was higher among white high school
      students (32.8%) and lower among African American (15.8%) students. However, the
      rate of smoking among middle school students was similar; about 1 in 10 African
      American (9.0%) and white (8.8%) middle school students reported having smoked
      cigarettes in the past month.
       
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1999 Youth Risk Behavior
      Surveillance System (YRBSS) report estimates that cigarette smoking prevalence
      during the past month was higher among white (38.6%) and Hispanic (32.7%) high
      school students than among African American (19.7%)
      students.
       
    • According to 1999 the Monitoring the Future Survey data, past month smoking
      prevalence was lower among African American high school seniors (14.9%) than
      among white (40.1%) high school seniors.
       

    Cigarette Smoking Behavior

    • Approximately three of every four African American smokers prefer menthol
      cigarettes. Among whites, approximately a quarter of smokers prefer menthol
      cigarettes. Menthol may facilitate absorption of harmful cigarette smoke
      constituents.

    • Among adult African American smokers the most popular brands are Newport,
      Kool, and Salem. Similar brand preference was found among African American teens
      with 61.3 % preferred Newport, 10.9% preferred Kool, and 9.7% preferred
      Salem.

    Prevalence of other forms of tobacco use

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