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Taking on Smoking-Related Health Disparities in African American Communities

April 03, 2018 | Community

African American communities have been particularly hard hit by the adverse effects of smoking and tobacco use. Although the smoking rate in the African American population is about the same as in the general population, African Americans are more likely to die from tobacco-related conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC).“African Americans and Tobacco Use.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 2017.

To address tobacco-related health disparities, and as part of our commitment to delivering the first tobacco-free generation, the CVS Health Foundation, American Lung Association and the National Urban League are teaming up to increase access to the Freedom From Smoking® program in more African American communities.

Tobacco Companies Have Targeted African Americans

Tobacco companies have aggressively targeted African Americans through culturally tailored advertising images and messages, especially for menthol cigarettes. Research shows that among African American smokers, around 90 percent use menthol cigarettes, which are given more shelf space in retail outlets within African American and other minority neighborhoods. Some research suggests menthol cigarettes may also be more harmful and more addictive than non-menthol cigarettes.

Access to smoking cessation programs may also be more limited in African American communities. Compared with smokers in other groups, more African Americans report wanting to quit and make more attempts to quit. However, these attempts are less likely to be successful without support and smoking cessation programs and resources.

Establishing Effective Smoking Cessation Programs

Through the partnership with the American Lung Association and National Urban League, support from the CVS Health Foundation is helping to promote and expand access to the Freedom From Smoking® program in Chicago, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Washington, D.C.

This program uses evidence-based behavioral change principles and incorporates numerous techniques to help smokers kick the habit. Resources available through the program include digital tools to develop personalized quit plans, access to group clinics, a self-help guide, and support from respiratory therapists and tobacco treatment specialists. Since being established in 1981, Freedom From Smoking® has helped more than one million people quit smoking.

To learn more about our efforts to help deliver the first tobacco-free generation and to support comprehensive education, advocacy, tobacco control and healthy behavior programming, please visit our Be The First resource center.