The role of tobacco in cancer health disparities

Curr Oncol Rep. 2009 Nov;11(6):475-81. doi: 10.1007/s11912-009-0064-9.


Although public health efforts have dramatically reduced the prevalence of smoking in the past several decades, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality in the United States. Moreover, tobacco use is becoming increasingly concentrated among individuals with the lowest levels of education, income, and occupational status. Profound racial/ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities exist for tobacco-related cancer incidence and mortality, and for access to and quality of cancer treatment. Furthermore, racial/ethnic minority and low SES smokers have greater difficulty quitting smoking, are less likely to use effective resources for quitting, and have limited access to evidence-based cessation treatments. Widespread implementation of population-based tobacco cessation approaches may have had the unintended effect of increasing tobacco-related cancer health disparities. It is crucial that vulnerable populations of smokers be provided with effective and accessible treatments for tobacco dependence, as this would have a profound impact on reducing tobacco-related cancer health disparities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health / ethnology
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnicity* / ethnology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Smoking Cessation / ethnology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology