By Eric Moreno
When it comes to smoking, there’s good and bad news for Latinos.
The good: Researchers have long known that Latinos adults overall are less likely to smoke cigarettes than their white or black peers.
The bad: New data now shows that one particular group of U.S. Latinos is more likely than all others to smoke.
Nearly 29% of Puerto Ricans smoke cigarettes compared to 20% of Cuban Americans and 19% of Mexican Americans, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Heart Association reports.
In Puerto Rico, smoking rates are much lower than in the U.S. Only 11% of all Puerto Ricans on the island smoke.
Of the 5.4 million Puerto Ricans living stateside, many live in poor-quality housing and have low-income jobs.
“Financial and emotional stress common among low-income earners may be another reason smoking rates are high among Puerto Ricans,” said Dr. Aida Giachello, a research professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said in the CDC report. “Puerto Ricans are now the nation’s second-largest [Latino] ethnic group behind Mexican Americans.”
These new smoking statistics come after another CDC report released earlier this year that showed Puerto Ricans to have the worst health among not only their Latino peers, but also compared with non-Hispanic Americans.
“Although there has been ‘considerable progress’ in reducing U.S. smoking rates over the past 30 years, the recent findings suggest enough hasn’t been done to curb smoking among Puerto Ricans and Cubans,” said Dr. Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The statistics underscore that more targeted efforts are warranted if we’re going to reduce tobacco use universally across the entire population.”
Research has shown that cigarette smoking causes numerous long-lasting health problems. These include certain cancers, damage to blood vessels and atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds up in the arteries. Smoking cigarettes can also lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes over time.
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