Racial difference seen in effectiveness of stop-smoking programs

November 19, 2001

Some smoking cessation programs proven effective for a general population may not work as well for black smokers, according to a new study.

Smoking patterns among blacks tend to be different than among whites. Studies of smokers have shown that, in general, blacks smoke fewer cigarettes but are more likely to smoke high-nicotine cigarettes. Blacks also tend to become more nicotine-dependent than whites.

"An intensive multicomponent cognitive-behavioral intervention for smoking cessation was significantly different in effectiveness for the black participants than for the white participants after one year of follow-up," says Robert P. Murray, Ph.D., of the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.

The results are based on data from the Lung Health Study, a 10-site study that included 5,887 smokers, 225 of whom were black. One hundred forty-nine of the black participants were randomly assigned to get group therapy and nicotine gum to help them stop smoking, and 76 were assigned to a control group that did not receive any therapy.

After one year, 23 percent of black participants in the intervention group had quit smoking, compared with 34 percent of white participants. However, after five years, the difference in quit rates between groups had narrowed and was no longer statistically significant. Unlike previous studies, it was unclear in this study whether black smokers were more nicotine dependent than white smokers.

The study is published in the November issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

"It appears that although black participants had less success than whites in the initial intervention program (or were less well served by it), over time these differences in rates of smoking tended to equalize," Murray says.

"Therefore taking the [study] as a whole, there was a treatment effect for both black and white participants, although the effect for blacks was weaker."

"Given the fact that programs designed specifically for blacks have shown mixed results, it is important to determine whether interventions without specific adaptations for black participants are effective," he says.

The researchers note that the sample of black smokers in this study, which was 3.8 percent of the total study sample, underrepresented blacks who account for about 12 percent of the general population.
This study was supported with funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Nicotine & Tobacco Research is the official peer-reviewed quarterly journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. For information about the journal, contact Gary E. Swan, Ph.D., at 650-859-5322.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health http://www.cfah.org. For more research news and information, go to our special section devoted to health and behavior in the "Peer-Reviewed Journals" area of Eurekalert!, http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/cfah/ For information about the Center, call Ira Allen, iallen@cfah.org 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

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