What Makes Asthmatics Smoke?
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Even though smoking can worsen asthma--a disease that affects more than 17 million Americans and kills thousands each year--a surprising number of people with the disease smoke, researchers report.
Now, investigators have pinpointed some factors that predict which asthmatics will take up tobacco, findings they say can be used to target people for interventions to help them quit.
``Not much attention has been paid to people with asthma who smoke,'' said lead author Dr. Mark D. Eisner of the University of California, San Francisco, in an interview with Reuters Health. ``We were interested in examining this particular population of smokers.''
The researchers interviewed 374 asthmatic people who lived in northern California. Of that group, 156 (42%) reported having ever smoked--meaning they have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. Thirty-nine (10%) people indicated that they smoke on a regular basis.
As with the general population, white asthmatics were more likely to smoke than other racial groups. Those who were born before 1960 or had not completed a high school education were also more likely to smoke. The heaviest smokers, those whose developed asthma early in life and those who started smoking early were also less likely to quit.
``I don't think that physicians pay much attention to their asthmatic patients who smoke,'' Eisner said. ``I think there is a general perception that asthmatics are less likely to smoke compared to the general population--our study shows that this is not necessarily true.''
The authors state that smoking prevention among asthmatics should be a priority. Asthmatics with the characteristics they identified ``may require intensive smoking cessation interventions,'' Eisner and colleagues conclude.