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Helping Latino Smokers To Quit

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Spanish speakers, primarily originating in Central and South America, are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. In the city where I work, (New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA) approximately 50% of the population is Latino – from a number of countries with Mexico being the largest subgroup. For various reasons, Latino smokers have been less inclined to make use of treatment services to help them quit. Here in New Brunswick we have worked at making our service more culturally competent, with the help of funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This has included adding basic features (e.g. Spanish speaking staff), and doing more systematic outreach into the Latino community. In so doing the proportion of our patients who are Latino has increased from 3% in 2001 to over 15% in 2006. The website for this project includes resources for both smokers and clinicians at: http://proyectovidanofume.org/

Latino smokers are also even less inclined to use medication (like nicotine patches or Zyban) than the rest of the population, even when factors like health insurance coverage are the same. It seems that this is because some of the common misconceptions are even more prevalent in Latino smokers (e.g. “I should be able to quit on my own” or “These medicines may be as harmful as smoking”). In order to try to help remedy this situation we have translated guidance for consumers on the use of nicotine replacement therapy to Spanish. This and other documents are available at:
http://proyectovidanofume.org/espanol/publication-span.htm

Whether you live in Mexico, Manchester or Minneapolis, the message for smokers is the same: “The single best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking. Help is available from your doctor, your pharmacist, and online and you should do whatever it takes to succeed in becoming tobacco free.”
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About the Author


MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.

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