Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander People Encounter Barriers to Quitting Successfully

Most people who smoke want to quit, and more than half of them try to do so each year. Among Asian adults who reported currently smoking cigarettes:

  • 70% say that they want to quit compared to 73% of Black people, 68% of White people, 67% of Hispanic people, and 56% of American Indian/Alaska Native people.42
  • 69% report that they tried to quit during the past year–higher than that among Hispanic people and White people.42

Proven treatments, such as FDA-approved medicines and behavioral counseling, make it more likely people will quit smoking successfully.43 Barriers to getting these treatments have been documented among racial and ethnic population groups.44,45

asian doctor talking to elderly man

About 34% of Asian adults who smoke report getting advice to quit from a healthcare provider.

Research has shown that Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (A/NH/PI) patients are less likely to receive quitting advice from their health care providers than non-Hispanic White patients.42

  • Fewer Asian adults who smoked and tried to quit, used evidence-based treatment (counseling or FDA-approved quit smoking medicine) than white adults who tried to quit.42
  • The Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) offers free phone-based counseling and other quit-smoking resources. ASQ has counselors who speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese, but Asian Americans who speak languages other than these may not be able to find the same services in their preferred language.
  • Of people who called the Asian Smokers’ Quitline, 48% had no health insurance to help them get free or lower-cost access to smoking cessation resources.46

Connecting every person who wants to quit with treatment proven to help them quit for good is important for improving people’s health.

Examples of strategies that states and communities can use are:
no smoking messages

Provide barrier-free, widely promoted, coverage for all evidence-based cessation treatments by all types of health insurance.
For example, as of 2018, only 15 state Medicaid programs fully covered tobacco cessation (quitting) services for all traditional Medicaid enrollees.47

no smoking messages

Increase access to sensitive quit-smoking services.
When it comes to health issues, one size does not fit all. Different people and communities have different needs and make decisions in different ways. For example, alternate cessation strategies may be helpful for those who smoke few cigarettes per day or only on some days.43

no smoking messages

Share health messages that reach A/NH/PI people.
Mass media campaigns are proven to increase smoking cessation, prevent tobacco use initiation, and reduce the prevalence of tobacco use. Anti-commercial tobacco* messaging and mass media campaigns, like CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers® (Tips®), can feature testimonials from people from many racial and ethnic groups. Some Tips advertisements have been translated into Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese), Korean, and Vietnamese and direct people to the Asian Smoker’s Quitline. Additional information and resources can be found on the Tips Asian American webpage.

*“Commercial tobacco” means harmful products that are made and sold by tobacco companies. It does not include “traditional tobacco” used by Indigenous groups for religious or ceremonial purposes.
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