Nicotine Addiction; Shift in culture affects smoking among Chinese Americans
2004 FEB 29 - (NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net) -- As Chinese American men improve their English skills, they may be less likely to smoke, according to a new study.
The men in the study, most of them born outside the United States, may have cut back on their smoking as they adjusted to the norms of American life, according to Steven Fu, MD, MSCE, of the Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research and colleagues. Their findings appeared in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
"In China, where the prevalence of smoking is high, smoking by men is socially acceptable and often a necessary social practice. As Chinese American men adopt American cultural values of a smoke-free environment, they may choose not to smoke in their efforts for social acceptance," Fu said.
Chinese American men who speak better English may also find it easier to get information on quitting smoking, the researchers said. Only half of the study's male smokers with poor English skills said they received advice on quitting from their doctors, compared with 85% of male smokers with a better grasp of English.
Fu and colleagues did not find any connection between English proficiency and decreased smoking among Chinese American women, possibly because smoking is already unacceptable among women born in traditional Chinese cultures.
A second study of newly immigrated Chinese and Taiwanese college students confirms that Chinese American men and women are held to different standards when it comes to smoking.
Donna Spruijt-Metz and Fan-Ni Hsia interviewed the students to find out what personal and social meanings they attached to smoking. Most students saw female smokers as "sluttish, cheap, underachieving ... and untraditional," while male smokers were considered "normal, usual and manlike," Spruijt-Metz said.
Although most of the male students said they were comfortable smoking in their home culture, they felt American culture did not welcome smoking and tried to quit or cut back as a result (Hsia FN, Spruijt-Metz D., The meanings of smoking among Chinese American and Taiwanese American college students. Nicotine Tob Res, 5(6):837- 50).
The Fu study was supported by the Matthew Slap Research Fund at the University of Pennsylvania, the Public Health Service National Research Scholarship Award and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Spruijt-Metz study was supported by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
This article was prepared by Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2004, Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA via NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net.