Smoking cigarettes puts you at risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are among the leading causes of death for African Americans in the United States.
- About 1 in 7 (14.6%) non-Hispanic Black adults in the U.S. smokes cigarettes.*
- Learn what percent of people currently smoke cigarettes, both in the United States overall and among specific populations.
Learn the real stories of African Americans who are suffering from smoking-related diseases and disabilities, and the family members who take care of them.
Meet Asaad and Leah. Asaad, age 25, lives in California with his mother, Leah, age 52. Leah has colorectal cancer from smoking that metastasized to her lung. Asaad was 19 years old when he put his life on hold to take care of his mom.
Meet Annette. Annette, age 57, lives in New York and began smoking in her teens. At age 52, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, which required removal of one of her lungs. She was later diagnosed with oral cancer.
Meet Geri. Geri, age 58, lives in Michigan and started smoking menthol cigarettes at age 20. She lives with smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and relies on oxygen therapy to help her breathe.
Meet Jamason. Jamason, age 18, lives in Kentucky. He was an infant when he was diagnosed with asthma. When people smoke around him, the secondhand smoke can trigger life-threatening asthma attacks.
Meet James. James, age 48, lives in New York and began smoking at age 14. He quit smoking in 2010 to reduce his risk for health problems and now bikes 10 miles every day.
Meet Julia. Julia, age 58, lives in Mississippi and started smoking in her early twenties. At age 49, she developed colon cancer. She’s had surgery and chemotherapy and has lived with an ostomy bag taped to a hole in her abdomen.
Meet Marie. Marie, age 62, lives in New York and began smoking in high school. Diagnosed with Buerger’s disease in her forties, Marie has undergone amputations of part of her right foot, her left leg, and several fingertips.
Meet Roosevelt. Roosevelt, age 51, lives in Virginia and began smoking in his teens. At age 45, he had a heart attack. Doctors later placed stents in his heart and performed six bypasses.
Meet Tiffany. Tiffany, age 40, lives in Louisiana. She started smoking at 19, even though her mother, a smoker, died of lung cancer. Tiffany quit smoking — wanting to be around for her own teenage daughter.
Learn more about all Tips® participants in our Real Stories section.
Get free help to quit smoking by calling a quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support.
Quit-smoking treatments may be free or reduced in price through insurance, health plans, or clinics.
State Medicaid programs cover quit-smoking treatments. While the coverage varies by state, all states cover some treatments for at least some Medicaid enrollees.
Medicare currently covers two quit attempts per year and up to four face-to-face counseling sessions per attempt.
*Tobacco Product Use and Cessation Indicators Among Adults – United States, 2018. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2019.
Geri, age 58, smoked menthol cigarettes and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at age 44. She would get easily winded, and at age 54, she had to quit working as a mail carrier because it was too taxing on her health.
“If I can help even one person to quit, then I’ve turned my curse into a blessing.”