Background: Despite the high rate of current smoking among blacks in the United States, to date there have been no studies comparing smoking rates or predictors of smoking among adults from different black ethnic groups living in the United States. If cancer control programs are to successfully reduce the risk of smoking-related cancers within black communities, more extensive data on demographics, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices within ethnic groups are needed.
Methods: We conducted a structured telephone interview to assess smoking status, alcohol use, cancer-related attitudes and beliefs, and demographic information among Haitian-born (N = 165), Caribbean-born (N = 354), and U.S.-born (N = 402) blacks living in New York City in 1992.
Results: Relative to U.S.-born participants, both Caribbean- and Haitian-born participants were significantly less likely to have ever smoked. Although both groups of foreign-born men were much more likely to have ever smoked relative to their female counterparts, U.S.-born men and women were equally likely to have ever smoked. Alcohol use was consistently related to smoking across ethnic and gender groups, and this association was enhanced among older drinkers. The belief that smoking is not related to cancer was associated with an almost twofold increase of ever smoking.
Conclusions: The rate of ever smoking among urban, foreign-born blacks is considerably lower than among U.S.-born blacks; among the foreign-born participants, ever smoking was lower among women relative to men. Alcohol use is an important predictor of smoking status, particularly among older drinkers.