Smoking Habits of Young Blue Collar Latinos Examined

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Smoking Habits

A new survey shows that although few young Latino blue collar workers smoke, 52 percent of those surveyed are exposed to secondhand smoke in some area of their workplace. The survey was conducted by the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

"Those who are poorly educated tend to smoke more, because they're less educated about the health risks and they tend to have a lot more stress in life," says Dr. Luis Velez, co-principal investigator and an assistant professor of medicine in cancer education at the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Research Center at BCM. "They are paid less, tend to have larger families and may have unstable jobs. Although most young Latino blue collar workers do not smoke and are highly aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke; almost half of them are involuntarily exposed to cigarette smoke in their workplaces."

A total of 390 Houston and 399 Dallas Latinos were called at random between October 2005 and January 2006 to answer a 58-question telephone survey. All respondents were between the ages of 18 and 30, not currently enrolled in college and are blue collar workers. Sixty percent of the participants were female and 40 percent male.

Twenty-five percent of the respondents said they smoke, and only a quarter of those smoke every day. A surprising 78 percent of those who smoke believe that smoking should be prohibited in bars and clubs, and 99 percent believe that smoking should be prohibited in restaurants.

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Being a blue collar worker includes people who work at bars, restaurants, hotels and construction sites where smoking is often allowed, which can put them at risk of secondhand smoke.

Although the smoking rates for the young Latinos who participated in the survey are relatively low compared to other ethnicities, about 40 percent of the people surveyed say they are involuntarily exposed to cigarette smoke in the common areas of their workplaces, and 45 percent are involuntarily exposed directly in their work area.

"I think most Latinos know of the risks and damage that their smoking in public places can cause others, so most are opposed to smoking even in their house," said Velez.

Eighty-seven percent of all respondents say that smoking is not allowed at all in their house, and 65 percent of those who smoke every day live in households where smoking is not allowed at all.

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