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Sociocultural Determinants of Menthol Smoking Among Blacks

Institution: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science
Investigator(s): Bruce Allen, DrPH
Award Cycle: 2006 (Cycle 15) Grant #: 15RT-0044H Award: $746,567
Subject Area: Epidemiology
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
In 2002, African Americans died more often from heart disease, cancer and stroke when compared to other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. We think that this is due to their unique smoking pattern that includes a preference for menthol cigarettes and other cigarettes that are high in tar and nicotine. Some studies report that African Americans smoke fewer cigarettes a day; they absorb more nicotine per cigarette smoked; that menthol in tobacco smoke slows the breaking down of nicotine; and that African American menthol smokers are less successful in quitting smoking. However, few studies have investigated differences within a race between menthol and non-menthol smokers and fewer still have investigated the psychosocial and cultural factors that are associated with smokers’ preference for menthol cigarettes.

We conducted a TRDRP-funded pilot study on a convenient sample of 432 adult African American smokers and found several psychosocial and cultural factors that appear to be associated with the preference for menthol cigarettes. That study was exploratory and had several limitations. Consequently, we design a scientifically rigorous study to recruit a large representative sample (N=720) of adult African American smokers in Los Angeles County. Previously validated questions and questions that we will develop will be used in our survey. We also will utilize a theory that views menthol smoking in six different areas including physiological, psychological, social, environmental, cultural, and demographic. An expert panel of tobacco control practitioners will be recruited to advise our study and to receive regular updates on the study progress. In the final year of this study, a daylong meeting of this 10-member panel will be held with the research team to help translate study findings into recommendations for improving tobacco use prevention and cessation strategies.

Two focus groups will be conducted with African American smokers to help develop and pilot test the telephone survey. Those who participate in the focus groups and pilot test will be given a $30.00 gift certificate but will not be included in the final sample. Nearly one million African Americans live in Los Angeles County and an estimated 131,000 are smokers. A random sampling strategy will be used to recruit 3,600 adult African American smokers from various locations throughout the County. A final study sample of 720 will be randomly selected from among the 3,600 pre-qualified smokers. This sample of 720 smokers will consist of an equal number of males and females to be surveyed by telephone to get detailed information about psychosocial and cultural factors that is thought to be connected with smoking menthol cigarettes.

Sociocultural corelates of menthol cigarette smoking amoung adult African Americans in Los Angeles.
Periodical: Journal of Nicotice and Tobacco Research Index Medicus:
Authors: Allen B Jr ART
Yr: 2007 Vol: 9 Nbr: Abs: Pg: 447-451

Menthol and non-menthol cigarette use among Black smokers in Southern Caifornia.
Periodical: Nicotine and Tobacco Research Index Medicus:
Authors: Unger, JB; Allen, B Jr; Leonard, E; Wenten, M; Cruz, TB ART
Yr: 2010 Vol: 12 Nbr: 4 Abs: Pg: 398-407

Development and validation of a scale to assess attitudes and beliefs about menthol cigarettes among African American smokers.
Periodical: Journal of Evaluation and the Health Professionals Index Medicus:
Authors: Allen, B Jr; Cruz, TB; Leonard, E; Unger, JB ART
Yr: Vol: Nbr: Abs: Pg: