1998 Highlights: Hispanics and Tobacco



Health Effects

  • Smoking is responsible for 87% of the lung cancer deaths in the United States. Overall, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanics.
  • Lung cancer deaths are about three times higher for Hispanic men (23.1 per 100,000) than for Hispanic women (7.7 per 100,000). The rate of lung cancer deaths per 100,000 were higher among Cuban-American men (33.7) than among Puerto-Rican (28.3) and Mexican-American (21.9) men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for Hispanics living in the United States. Among Hispanic subgroups in 1992–1994, death rates for coronary heart disease were 82 per 100,000 for Mexican-American men and 44.2 per 100,000 for Mexican-American women, 118.6 per 100,000 for Puerto-Rican men and 67.3 per 100,000 for Puerto-Rican women, and 95.2 per 100,000 for Cuban men and 42.4 per 100,000 for Cuban women.

Prevalence of Other Forms of Tobacco Use

  • Aggregated National Health Interview Survey data from 1987 and 1991 show that more Cuban-American men (2.5%) smoked cigars than Mexican-American (1.5%) and Puerto-Rican (1.3%) men.

Tobacco Industry Influence

  • Tobacco products are advertised and promoted disproportionately to racial/ethnic minority communities. Examples of target promotions include the introduction of a cigarette product with the brand name “Rio” and an earlier cigarette product named “Dorado,” which was advertised and marketed to the Hispanic-American community.
  • To increase its credibility in the Hispanic community, the tobacco industry has contributed to programs that aim to enhance the primary and secondary education of children, has funded universities and colleges, and has supported scholarship programs targeting Hispanics. Tobacco companies have also placed advertising in many Hispanic publications. The industry also contributed to cultural Hispanic events and provide significant support to the Hispanic art community.


Disclaimer: Data and findings provided in the publications on this page reflect the content of this particular Surgeon General’s Report. More recent information may exist elsewhere on the Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site (for example, in fact sheets, frequently asked questions, or other materials that are reviewed on a regular basis and updated accordingly).