Drs. Chad Morris and Susan Young will be published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Their article, “Characteristics of American Indian/ Alaskan Native Quitline Callers Across 14 States,” focuses on smoking prevalence among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in relation to the data they examined from National Jewish Health – the provider of telephonic tobacco cessation services for 14 states. The article examines the high prevalence of commercial tobacco use among this group and stresses “the critical need for tailored efforts to better reach AI/AN commercial tobacco users who are considering treatment.”
Background. American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have the highest smoking prevalence (29.2%) of any other racial/ethnic group in the United States, and lower quit rates. Comprehensive healthcare services, including commercial tobacco cessation treatments, are difficult to access for many AI/AN individuals due to poverty, the rural distribution of tribal territories, cultural barriers and the lack of funding for these programs. Due, in part, to these healthcare gaps, AI/AN communities are disproportionally affected by nicotine dependence and associated chronic medical and psychiatric conditions.
Methods. We report on data from National Jewish Health (NJH), which provides telephonic tobacco cessation services for 14 states in the U.S. We examine how AI/AN callers who were predominately AI callers, differ from their counterparts (i.e., callers identifying as other ethnic groups) in terms of demographic characteristics, commercial tobacco use history, rates of emotional or mental health issues, and rates of chronic illness.
Results. Findings from the quitline analyses show a higher rate of pre-adolescent onset of commercial tobacco use in the AI/AN callers. AI/AN callers are also more likely to live with another commercial tobacco user. Results demonstrate that AI/AN callers are disproportionately impacted by mental health challenges, including high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Similarly, AI/AN callers report more chronic medical issues including diseases of the lungs and cardiovascular system.
Conclusions. These findings stress the critical need for tailored efforts to better reach AI/AN commercial tobacco users who are considering treatment, in order to make meaningful gains in commercial tobacco cessation for this vulnerable population.
Implications. These findings demonstrate the disproportionate impact of commercial tobacco use on the AI/AN population who utilizes quitline services. These date stress the critical need for tailored efforts to better reach AI/AN commercial tobacco users who are considering treatment, in order to make meaningful gains in commercial tobacco cessation for this vulnerable population.