Hispanic and Latino People Encounter Barriers to Quitting Successfully

The majority of people who smoke want to quit, and more than half of them try to do so each year. Among Hispanic adults who smoked cigarettes:

  • An estimated 67% report that they want to quit compared with 73% of Black, 68% of White, 70% of Asian, and 56% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults.50
  • An estimated 56% report attempting to quit in the past year compared with 63% of Black, 53% of White, and 69% of Asian adults.51
  • Hispanic adults quit smoking at similar rates to those of White adults and the overall population.50 Research shows that Hispanic people who smoke express high motivation to quit and can be motivated by the health effects that smoking can have on their children and family. Nevertheless, Hispanic people who smoke may try to quit without using cessation medication or counseling support.50,52

Proven treatments, such as FDA-approved medicines and behavioral counseling, make it more likely that people will quit smoking successfully. Hispanic/Latino people who smoke can run into barriers when trying to find and use these treatments.

  • In 2015, Hispanic adults who smoked were less likely to receive advice to quit from a healthcare professional than non-Hispanic white adults who smoked.50,53
  • In 2015, Hispanic adults who smoked were less likely to use any evidence-based treatment (counseling or medication) to quit than non-Hispanic white adults, though use of treatment varied by Hispanic subgroup.50,53
  • Fewer Hispanic adults who smoke have health insurance coverage than non-Hispanic white adults who smoke.53 This may help to explain differences between these groups in use of proven quit-smoking treatments.
  • The use of tobacco-cessation quitlines among Hispanic persons remains low, especially among those who speak Spanish.54

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:

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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 enrollees in traditional Medicaid.53

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Integrate clinical screening and treatment for commercial tobacco* use in all healthcare settings and with all types of patients.
Community health centers and low-cost health clinics serve people who are more likely to use commercial tobacco products.56,57 Talking to people about commercial tobacco use and quitting as a regular part of healthcare visits in these settings will help make sure that all groups can get effective treatment to help them quit.

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Increase access to culturally tailored cessation services.
When it comes to health issues, one size does not fit all. Different people and communities have varying needs and make decisions in different ways. For example, Hispanic/Latino people may smoke intermittently or smoke less than 10 cigarettes per day.58 Different cessation strategies may be helpful for individuals with these smoking patterns.51 In addition, treatment approaches developed by and for Hispanic/Latino communities that build on cultural values and priorities may be helpful.59

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Share health messages that feature Hispanic/Latino people and their experiences.
Mass media campaigns are proven to increase smoking cessation, prevent tobacco use initiation, and reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.11,51 Anti-commercial tobacco messaging and mass media campaigns can feature testimonials from people from many racial and ethnic groups. CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® (Tips®) is one example of a campaign that has done this. When Tips® was translated into Spanish, publicized on Spanish-language television, and included a phone number (1-855-DÉJELO-YA) that routed callers to state-specific Spanish language services, more Hispanic/Latinx people who smoke called to get advice on how to quit.59

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Support community-based delivery of tobacco cessation and prevention interventions.
Community-based intervention models can include promotores de salud/community health workers, charlas/community discussions, and trainer-of-trainers models.60 Such models can integrate community-specific cultural and linguistic elements for tailored outreach and education.60

*“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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