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Cigarette Smoking and Quit Attempts Among Latinos in SUD Treatment

April 1, 2018
Pagano, A, et al.
Pagano A, et al. Cigarette Smoking and Quit Attempts Among Latinos in Substance Use Disorder Treatment. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2018 (in press).
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  • Tobacco use is a major health risk for people with substance use disorders (SUDs).
  • Clients in SUD treatment smoke at 3-4 times the rate of the general population, tend to smoke more heavily, and are less likely to quit successfully.
  • In addition to persons in SUD treatment, Latinos are another important tobacco disparity group. Although Latinos tend to smoke at lower rates than non-Latino whites, they have disproportionately high rates of lung cancer death and are less likely than non-Latino whites to receive tobacco cessation services. Additionally, service providers may underestimate the severity of Latino smoking due to Latinos’ greater likelihood of being light and intermittent smokers.

This study aimed to compare, in a national sample of persons enrolled in SUD treatment, demographic, drug use, and smoking and quitting prevalence and behaviors between Latinos and non-Latino whites.

Researchers surveyed 777 SUD treatment clients, sampled from 24 clinics selected at random from the NIDA Clinical Trials Network (Latino client n=141; 40% female). Statistical analyses were then conducted to identify correlates of smoking behaviors by Latinos/non-Latino whites in treatment for substance use disorders.

Results found that Latinos’ smoking prevalence closely resembled that of non-Latino whites (78.7% vs. 77.4%). Additionally, Latino smokers:

 - tended to smoke fewer cigarettes per day (CPD) than non-Latino white smokers,
 - were more often nondaily smokers and menthol smokers,
 - more often reported a smoking quit attempt in the last year, and
 - tended to report higher numbers of past-year quit attempts.

Among Latino smokers, those with less education and those reporting opioids as their primary drug of use reported higher CPD.

Conclusions: Latinos in SUD treatment are at equally high risk of being current heavy smokers as compared to non-Latino whites in SUD treatment. At the same time, Latinos in SUD treatment exhibit ethnic-specific smoking and quitting behaviors that should be considered when designing smoking interventions for this group.

Ethnic minorities and persons with SUDs are treated within health policy and scientific literature as distinct groups with specific risk factors for tobacco use and related disease, but in everyday life individuals occupy more than one social category. Tobacco cessation efforts must confront multiple sources of risk and inequality to reach intersectional populations such as Latinos with SUDs. The findings presented here not only attest to the complexity of such efforts, but also signal their necessity.

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