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Low Frequency Smoking Among Latinos

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Investigator(s): Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2009 (Cycle 18) Grant #: 18XT-0163 Award: $249,863
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Exploratory/Developmental Award
Abstracts

Initial Award Abstract
We plan to study the cigarette-smoking patterns of Latinos in California. A better understanding of Latinos’ smoking patterns may lead to new ways to help smokers quit. Over 70% of Californian Latino smokers smoke only 5 or fewer cigarettes per day, or else smoke on a non-daily basis. If every smoker in California smoked at the low rate of Californian Latino smokers, the number of cigarettes smoked every year in the state would drop by 30%.

People who smoke non-daily, or who smoke fewer than 5 cigarettes per day, are called low-frequency smokers. Their smoking patterns do not fit standard addiction theories. Very little is known about how they keep their smoking levels so low—or about what keeps them smoking at all. Low-frequency smoking is becoming more common throughout the state, and new approaches to quitting smoking may work better for these smokers. An understanding of low-frequency patterns will form the basis of effective new approaches.

Since Latinos have the greatest proportion of low-frequency smokers, we plan to focus on them. To understand more about their low-frequency smoking patterns, we will interview 120 Latino smokers, asking detailed questions about their smoking histories and habits.

We will advertise the study online and in print media. Each person in the study will be interviewed weekly for 3 weeks, and all interviews will be over the telephone. To be in the study, people will need to live in California, be 18 or older, be Latino/Hispanic and speak English or Spanish, be smoking at least one day per week, have smoked for at least 3 years, provide contact information, agree to 3 interviews, and not try to quit smoking during the study period. People in the study can choose to be interviewed in Spanish or English.

We will have 4 groups for this study, each with 15 men and 15 women: (1) non-daily smokers who have never smoked daily, (2) non-daily smokers who used to smoke daily, (3) daily smokers who smoke 5 or fewer cigarettes per day, and (4) daily smokers who smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day. We will ask how and when they started smoking; whether they have ever smoked more or less than they now do; and what they think is “normal” smoking for them (times, places, amounts, etc.). We will also ask for details about their smoking during the past week: when, where, and why they smoked; who else was there; what else was going on; whether they had cigarettes with them or had to buy them or borrow them from others.

Through analyzing responses of the people in the study, we will try to learn the following things:

1. whether smokers are more likely to become low-frequency smokers after trying to quit and then relapsing or by cutting back on the number of cigarettes they smoke without trying to quit first 2. whether smokers moving from daily to non-daily smoking are more likely to give up cigarettes on days when they are with their friends who smoke, or on days when they are not with these friends 3. whether low-frequency smokers usually carry their cigarettes with them, and whether not carrying cigarettes leads them to smoke less 4. what the smokers in each of the 4 groups consider “normal” smoking for them (for example, patterns of smoking, numbers of cigarettes per day, situations when people do or don’t smoke)
Publications

The cigarette-carrying habit of occasional smokers
Periodical: Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy Index Medicus:
Authors: Zhu, S-H, Nguyen, Q.B., White, M., Edland, S. D., Al-Delaimy, W. K. ART
Yr: 2012 Vol: S2:006 Nbr: doi:10. Abs: S2-006 Pg: 4172/2155-6105.