Fast Facts About Latinos/Hispanics and Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke in the workplace is a health justice issue. Everyone deserves protection from workplace health hazards, and no one should have to choose between their life and their livelihood. Latinos/Hispanics are the largest segment of the population in the hospitality industry workforce, the occupational sector that has the lowest level of smokefree protection. This ethnic group is exposed to secondhand smoke and its negative health effects at greater levels than the general population.

Does that sound like health justice?

Latinos/Hispanics have significantly lower smoking rates than the national average, have a greater percentage of smokefree homes, and express strong support for smokefree workplaces. However, the leading causes of disease and death within the Latino/Hispanic community are heart disease and cancer, in large part due to secondhand smoke exposure at the workplace.

Does that sound like health justice?

Learn more about secondhand smoke and the Latino/Hispanic community and ways to ensure health justice through smokefree environments to all workers.


Fast Facts About Latinos/Hispanics and Secondhand Smoke

For more detailed information and citations, read the full report.

  • In the U.S. Latino/Hispanic population, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Both of these diseases are associated with secondhand smoke exposure.

  • Seventy-one percent believe that workplaces should be 100% smokefree, and the majority of Latino/Hispanic adults (59 percent) believe that restaurants should be smokefree.

  • Hispanic males (58.8%) and Latina/Hispanic females (69.9%) were less likely than white males (63.5%) and white females (74.1%), and African American males (63.5%) and African American females (72.2%) to be covered by workplace smoking policies. (See Graph)

  • Latinos/Hispanics (18.6%) have smoking rates that are significantly lower than the national average (23.3%).

  • The tobacco industry used Spanish language ads, places print ads in Latino/Hispanic oriented publications, and concentrates outdoor billboard advertising in neighborhoods with large Latino/Hispanic populations. The Rio and El Dorado cigarette brands were launched in the late 1980's specifically to appeal to the Latino/Hispanic community.
Smokefree News

Tobacco use fueled by e-cigs, hookah remains high among US Hispanics
Hola Arkansas - December 28, 2015

Tobacco use remains a serious problem among Hispanic/Latino adults, with increasing use and acceptance of e-cigarettes and hookah among younger tobacco users living in the United States, according to a study presented at the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions 2015.

Iglesias-Rios, L.; Parascandola, M., "A historical review of R.J. Reynolds' strategies for marketing tobacco to hispanics in the United States," American Journal of Public Health 103(5): e15-e27, May 2013.

Abstract: Hispanics are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, and smoking is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality among this population. We analyzed tobacco industry documents on R. J. Reynolds’ marketing strategies toward the Hispanic population using tobacco industry document archives from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library ( between February–July 2011 and April–August 2012. Our analysis revealed that by 1980 the company had developed a sophisticated surveillance system to track the market behavior of Hispanic smokers and understand their psychographics, cultural values, and attitudes. This information was translated into targeted marketing campaigns for the Winston and Camel brands. Marketing targeted toward Hispanics appealed to values and sponsored activities that could be perceived as legitimating. Greater understanding of tobacco industry marketing strategies has substantial relevance for addressing tobacco-related health disparities.

Prokhorov, A.V.; Hudmon, K.S.; Marani, S.K.; Bondy, M.L.; Gatus, L.A.; Spitz, M.R.; Wilkinson, A.V.; Hammond, S.K.; Koehly, L.M., "Eliminating second-hand smoke from Mexican-American households: outcomes from Project Clean Air-Safe Air (CASA)," Addictive Behaviors 38(1): 1485-1492, August 17, 2012.

More Hispanics smoking, studies find
Sacramento (CA) Bee, 2006-02-10

More Hispanic women and teenagers are smoking, according to a growing body of research.

After reviewing 11 studies involving 27,000 Hispanics in America, researchers at the University of California found that more Latino women smoke the longer they have been in the United States.

The study, unveiled in July, showed that smoking among some Hispanic women doubled after they moved to the United States.

Other surveys have found that Latino teenagers also are smoking more.

Activists: Tobacco targets Hispanic kids
Associated Press, November 17, 2005

MIAMI (AP) - Anti-smoking activists are accusing the tobacco industry of increasing efforts to sell cigarettes to Hispanics, especially Hispanic youths with print ads featuring sexy young musicians.

Advocates say Hispanics' low rate of smoking as compared to others makes them ripe for an industry seeking to boost sagging sales. They also say marketing targeted to Hispanics, which is often in Spanish, goes under the radar of the Federal Trade Commission.

Researcher: Tobacco industry targets Hispanics
Pueblo (CO) Chieftain, 2005-08-21

The tobacco industry has taken aim at Hispanics and is energetically marketing to that sector of society, a researcher told a standing-room-only audience at the Colorado Cancer Conference earlier this month.

Chris Armijo, who has a master's degree in public health from the Colorado Health Sciences Center, recently was involved in projects focusing on tobacco education among Latinos, cancer education in migrant populations and a needs assessment of Latinos living in the city of Lafayette at the Colorado Health Sciences Center's Research and Policy Center.

He quoted a Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. statement: "The Hispanic market is still in an era of 'unlimited possibilities.' "

Twice as many adverts for unhealthy foods, cigarettes and alcohol in black and Latino magazines
EurekAlert, 2005-08-17

Magazines aimed at African-American and Hispanic women publish twice as many adverts for potentially health-damaging products, such as alcohol or junk food, as mainstream magazines aimed mainly at white women. Black and Latino magazines also publish four times fewer adverts for healthy products. A study published in the open access journal, BMC Public Health, shows that the content of advertisements in black or Latino magazines may contribute to the lower health status observed in African-American and Hispanic populations in the USA.

Scientific Studies & Other Resources in Spanish

[Estimation of the excess of lung cancer mortality risk associated to environmental tobacco smoke exposure of hospitality workers.]
Medicina Clinica 2006 Jan 14;126(1): 13-4. [Article in Spanish]

Jose Lopez M, Nebot M, Juarez O, Ariza C, Salles J, Serrahima E.
Servei d'Avaluacio i Metodes d'Intervencio. Agencia de Salut Publica. Barcelona.

Background and objective: To estimate the excess lung cancer mortality risk associated with environmental tobacco (ETS) smoke exposure among hospitality workers. The estimation was done using objective measures in several hospitality settings in Barcelona. Method: Vapour phase nicotine was measured in several hospitality settings. These measurements were used to estimate the excess lung cancer mortality risk associated with ETS exposure for a 40 year working life, using the formula developed by Repace and Lowrey.

Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)

El Impacto de Tabaco a la Comunidad Latina: Un Tema de Derechos Civiles

For fact sheets and videos in Spanish on Latinos and Tobacco, contact the National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention.