Immigrant and Refugee Health: The Dangers of Smoking

A prominent factor in smoking by immigrants and refugees, is the language barrier that many face. It also contributes to inaccessible education in regards to health. Support is needed in order to overcome these obstacles, and to promote health through education.

According to the CDC, more than 50,000 immigrants and refugees relocate to the United States every year. Among those who are looking to begin a new life full of promise, comes the hope of new health. Many places of origin for refugees are lacking in modern medicine, or the availability of doctors and treatments. This alone has led hundreds of thousands to America’s shores. However, one of the largest health issue plaguing refugees, is tobacco use.

According to a study published on Plos One, migrants in the US smoke less on average, than their US born counterparts. The statistics given are, men smoke at a statistical rate of 14.2%, while women smoke at a statistical rate of 4.1%. This rate was found to be lower than the US-born group of men who smoked at a statistical rate of 21.4%, and US-born women who smoked at a statistical rate of 18.1%. However, the total statistical rate of smokers in the US as a whole, is approximately 17.8% of the total population.

The average rates globally, based on the countries of origin for immigrants and refugees are much, much higher. This decline in immigrant and refugee smokers is a step in the right direction, but more can be done.

Health Education

The reason for this decline is often attributed to the onset of readily available information in regards to the dangers of smoking. Many places in the world do not have the health education availability for people to learn about the consequences of tobacco use. However, in some cases, this educational availability is also not enough. Something more is needed.
The value of family support cannot be overstated. There are many family units that have an elder or other family members who do not speak, or has trouble reading English. When these family members smoke, it becomes even more difficult for them to understand the consequences of tobacco use. This is especially true for those who have smoked in their native country for many years.

In these instances, it is imperative for everyone in the immediate family to get involved. Explaining the negative health effects in their native language is beneficial for the spread of health education. Many individuals who migrate to the US tend to find others from their home country for comfort, and communication purposes. When one of these individuals learns something of importance, they are more likely to share this information with others in their circle.

Smoking Cessation

It is hard for anyone to quit smoking. However, it is more difficult the longer one has smoked. Therefore, explaining the use of certain quit smoking aids can be useful for individuals who have never been exposed to smoking cessation.

Nicotine gum is a great way to curb nicotine cravings without the harmful chemicals of cigarettes. It is especially helpful to those who have made a habit out of chewing tobacco. Nicotine patches are a fairly unobtrusive way to help curb cigarette cravings. They release metered doses of nicotine into the bloodstream without added chemicals.

Electronic cigarettes are another great way to quit smoking, and transitioning between the two can be next to seamless. They simulate the act of smoking, which makes using e-cigarettes very comforting and easy to manage. E-cigs also use nicotine, but do not use any other chemicals associated with cigarettes. There is no flame, so there is no byproduct of combustion, as well.