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Notice to Readers Publication of Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health

The Surgeon General's report, Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, was released on April 27, 1998. This report is the first to focus on tobacco use among four U.S. racial/ethnic minority groups: African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics.

The five major conclusions in the report are

  1. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of disease and death in each of the four population groups studied in this report. African Americans currently bear the greatest health burden. Differences in the magnitude of disease risk are directly related to differences in patterns of smoking.

  2. Tobacco use varies within and among racial/ethnic minority groups; among adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest prevalence of tobacco use, and African American and Southeast Asian men also have a high prevalence of smoking. Asian American and Hispanic women have the lowest prevalence.

  3. Among adolescents, cigarette smoking prevalence increased in the 1990s among African Americans and Hispanics after several years of substantial decline among adolescents of all four racial/ethnic minority groups. This increase is particularly striking among African American youths, who had the greatest decline of the four groups during the 1970s and 1980s.

  4. No single factor determines patterns of tobacco use among racial/ethnic minority groups; these patterns are the result of complex interactions of multiple factors, such as socioeconomic status, cultural characteristics, acculturation, stress, biological elements, targeted advertising, price of tobacco products, and varying capacities of communities to mount effective tobacco control initiatives.

  5. Rigorous surveillance and prevention research are needed on the changing cultural, psychosocial, and environmental factors that influence tobacco use to improve our understanding of racial/ethnic smoking patterns and identify strategic tobacco control opportunities. The capacity of tobacco control efforts to keep pace with patterns of tobacco use and cessation depends on timely recognition of emerging prevalence and cessation patterns and the resulting development of appropriate community-based programs to address the factors involved.

Additional information about the report or a free copy of the executive summary is available from CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, Mailstop K-50, 4770 Buford Highway, N.E., Atlanta, GA 30341-3724; telephone (770) 488-5705 (press 2); or World-Wide Web Faxed copies of the executive summary may be obtained from the Office on Smoking and Health's fax information system, telephone (800) 232-1311 and select "hot topics." Copies of the full report (stock no. 017-001-00527-4) are available for $20 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9328; telephone (202) 512-1800; fax (202) 512-1650. The executive summary of the report will be published as an MMWR Recommendations and Reports.


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Tobacco use among U.S. racial/ethnic minority groups -- African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1998.

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