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Predictors of Tobacco Use in Hispanic Americans

Institution: San Diego State University Research Foundation
Investigator(s): Sarah Mills, M.S.
Award Cycle: 2015 (Cycle 24) Grant #: 24DT-0004 Award: $7,090
Subject Area: Industry Influence/Policy
Award Type: Dissertation Awards

Initial Award Abstract

Hispanic Americans are the fastest growing demographic group in the United States and in 2010, accounted for 16.3% of the United States population. Cancer and heart disease are the leading causes of death among Hispanic Americans. Furthermore, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic American men and the second leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic American women. Cigarette smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, and is estimated to be linked to approximately 90% of all lung cancers in the United States.

Tobacco use among Hispanic Americans may be related to cultural differences that exist at the individual (e.g., acculturation) level, as well as to differences that exist at neighborhood (e.g., density of tobacco stores) levels. For this project, person-level variables will be acculturation focused. Acculturation is a process of behavior and attitude change as a result of contact with another culture. Researchers hypothesize that Hispanic Americans have more favorable health, despite generally low socio-economic status, in part because of positive health behaviors and norms associated with their culture. Furthermore, as Hispanic Americans become more acculturated to the United States, and adopt customs and behaviors of United States culture, they engage in more adverse health behaviors.

A critical aspect missing from research relating acculturation to health is an understanding of environmental or contextual factors. Although the ability to engage in healthy behaviors is often attributed to an individual’s choices, it also is affected by the availability of resources in the environment. An environment with an abundance of tobacco stores may make it more difficult to abstain from smoking, and live a healthy lifestyle.

Thus, in two separate studies, this project will jointly examine the relationships of acculturation and the tobacco retail environment to 1) tobacco use and 2) health-related quality of life, and will examine the degree to which the neighborhood in which one lives impacts the relationship between an individual’s level of acculturation and his or her self-rated health. This project intends to identify which Hispanic Americans are at risk for tobacco use and poor health-related quality of life, and importantly, under what tobacco retail environment conditions this occurs.