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Smoking rates among Natives highest in nation
Friday, October 10, 2003

Native Americans have the highest rate of smoking in the nation, according to data released on Thursday.

In a recent survey, 32.7 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native adults aged 18 and over said they current smokers. This was significantly higher than the national average of 22.8 percent.

The prevalence of smoking among Native Americans was also much higher than other racial and ethnic groups. Based on the 2001 National Health Interview Survey, 12.4 percent of Asian, 16.7 percent of Hispanics, 22.3 percent of African-Americans and 24.0 percent of Whites were current smokers.

Broken down by gender, 31.7 percent of Native women said they were current smokers. This was triple the rate seen among Hispanic women.

Among men, the data was similar. The 2001 found that 33.5 percent of Native men were current smokers. Only African-American males, at 27.7 percent, displayed a similar prevalence.

The statistics were reported in the current issue of the Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report (MMWR), a publication of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The authors of the report noted that smoking among all Americans has dropped from 25.0 percent in 1993 to 22.8 percent in 2001.

"However, the overall decline in smoking is not occurring at a rate that will meet the national health objective by 2010," the authors wrote.

The report did not detail smoking trends among Native Americans for the same time period. But other studies have showed that tobacco use in Indian Country has not changed dramatically over the years.

For the years 1997 to 1998, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that 34.5 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women were smokers, dwarfing the rates of Whites (23.5 percent) and African-Americans (21.9 percent). When compared to other racial and ethnic groups, usage was even more staggering: American Indian women smoked two-and-a-half times the rate of Hispanics (13.8 percent) and three times the rate of Asian-Americans (11.2 percent).

According to an August 2001 study, 20.0 percent of American Indian women smoked during pregnancy, down only slightly from 22.4 percent in 1990. Indian mothers in the Plains, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska have shown the highest rates compared to their counterparts.

Smoking among Native youth is high as well. According to survey results released last month, 37.1 percent of Natives aged 12 and older said they used tobacco, the highest rate in the country.

Get the Study:
Cigarette Smoking Among Adults --- United States, 2001 (October 10, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Tobacco Control, Indian Health Service -

Related Stories:
Drug use among Natives highest in nation (09/17)
Native youth top drug use survey again (09/06)
Native youth targeted in anti-drug ads (5/17)
Native youth heaviest smokers in nation (4/3)
Report: Native youth highest drug users (10/5)
Tribal tobacco challenges dismissed (9/5)
CDC: Indian mothers heaviest smokers (8/29)
Tribal challenge to big tobacco dismissed (7/17)
Report: Native women heaviest smokers (3/28)
Smoking in Indian Country (3/28)

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