Cigarette smoking among immigrant Salvadoreans in Washington, DC: behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs

Addict Behav. Mar-Apr 2000;25(2):275-81. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(99)00009-x.


There has been an influx of immigrants from El Salvador to the Washington, DC (DC) area, but little is known about the health behaviors of this population. This study was conducted to describe the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adult Salvadorean immigrants to the DC area. Bilingual interviewers administered a face-to-face interview to participants recruited from throughout the community. Complete data were available for 1,458 participants: 10.8% of those surveyed were current smokers and 11.7% were former smokers. Men were significantly more likely than women to have ever smoked either in the past (adjusted prevalence difference [PD = 21.0%] or currently (PD = 21.2%). The respondents tended to believe that smoking was a "habit" rather than an addition. Only 16% lived in households where smoking was permitted, and the majority supported smoke-free policies in public places, with men and current smokers being less permissive. The smoking behavior exclusively represented the smoking pattern that the Salvadoreans had adopted before immigration. The data suggest that smoking control strategies aimed at this population should seek to reduce the onset of smoking among men and continue to keep smoking among women rare.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • District of Columbia
  • El Salvador / ethnology
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Urban Population*