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Racial/Ethnic Disparities Across Indicators of Cigarette Smoking in the Era of Increased Tobacco Control, 1992–2019



This study compared tobacco use and cessation for African Americans (AA), Asians/Pacific Islanders (API), Hispanics/Latinos (H/L), American Indian/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN), and non-Hispanic Whites (NHW) in the United States to California (CA), the state with the longest continually funded tobacco control program. The purpose of this study was to identify tobacco use disparities across racial/ethnic groups across time.


Cigarette use prevalence (uptake and current use), consumption (mean number of cigarettes smoked per day [CPD]), and quit ratios were calculated across survey years, and trends were examined within each race/ethnic group and comparing between CA and the United States, utilizing the 1992-2019 Tobacco Use Supplements to the Current Population Survey.


Prevalence decreased for all race/ethnic groups. Current use among CA NHW showed significant decline compared with US counterparts, whereas US H/L showed greater decline than CA counterparts. CPD decreased by approximately 30% across race/ethnic groups, with CA groups having lower numbers. The greatest decrease occurred among AA in CA (average 10.3 CPD [95% confidence interval (CI): 10.3, 12.6] in 1992/1993 to 3 CPD [95% CI: 2.4, 3.7] in 2018/2019). Quit ratios increased from 1992/1993 to 2018/2019 for CA H/L 52.4% (95% CI: 49.8, 53.0) to 59.3 (95% CI: 55.8, 62.5) and CA NHWs 61.5% (95% CI: 60.7, 61.9) to 63.8% (95% CI: 63.9, 66.9).


Although overall prevalence decreased over time for each racial/ethnic group, declines in CA outpaced the United States only for NHWs. Reductions in CPD were encouraging but the quit ratio points to the need to increase tobacco control efforts toward cessation.


The successes in reduced cigarette use uptake and prevalence across time for both California and the rest of the United States were observed largely among non-Hispanic White populations. Although reductions in the number of cigarettes smoked per day are a notable success, particularly among the Californian African Americans, efforts to support quitting across racial/ethnic groups, especially marginalized groups, need to be prioritized.

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