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Decreased smoking disparities among Vietnamese and Cambodian communities - Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) project, 2002-2006.

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Since 1964, smoking prevalence in the United States has declined because of nationwide intervention efforts. However, smoking interventions have not been implemented uniformly throughout all communities. Some of the highest smoking rates in the United States have been reported among Southeast Asian men, and socioeconomic status has been strongly associated with smoking. To compare the effect in reducing racial and ethnic disparities between men in Southeast Asian (Vietnamese and Cambodian) communities and men residing in the same states, CDC analyzed 2002-2006 data from The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) project. The prevalence of current smoking significantly decreased and the quit ratio (percentage of ever smokers who have quit) significantly increased in REACH Vietnamese and Cambodian communities, but changes were minimal among all men in California or all men in Massachusetts (where these communities were located). The smoking rate also declined significantly, and the quit ratio showed an upward trend in U.S. men overall; however, the changes were significantly greater in REACH communities than in the nation. Stratified analyses showed decreasing trends of smoking and increasing trends of quit ratio in persons of both high and low education levels in Vietnamese REACH communities. The relative disparities in the prevalence of smoking and in the quit ratio decreased or were eliminated between less educated Vietnamese and less educated California men and between Cambodian and Massachusetts men regardless of education level. Eliminating health disparities related to tobacco use is a major public health challenge facing Asian communities. The decline in smoking prevalence at the population level in the three REACH Vietnamese and Cambodian communities as described in this report might serve as a model for promising interventions in these populations. The results highlight the potential effectiveness of community-level interventions, such as forming community coalitions, use of local media, and enhancing communities' capacity for systems change. The Office of Minority Health and Health Equity selected this intervention analysis and discussion to provide an example of a program that might be effective for reducing tobacco use-related health disparities in the United States.

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