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In Black Community, Perceived Norms Among Barriers to Quitting Smoking

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Many young black Americans think that smoking is normal behavior, very common and “essentially nonproblematic,” an outlook that ranks among the barriers to black 18- to 24-year-olds quitting smoking, Reuters reported July 12.

Researcher Frances A. Stillman of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues found that other barriers included the availability of loose cigarettes for sale, and industry advertising targeting the black community. The findings come from focus groups involving 28 young black men and women in Baltimore as well as a survey of 156 black youth.

“Smoking cessation efforts need to take into consideration environmental influences, such as the sale of single cigarettes, particularly in inner-city African American young adults,” the study noted.

“This study found that the sale of single cigarettes was more pervasive than previously reported and that most of the sales occurred on the street,” Stillman and colleagues wrote. “This easy and affordable way to purchase cigarettes from street vendors and stores undermines tax policies, promotes smoking as a normative behavior and may contribute to high smoking rates in some inner-city communities.”

The research appears in the August 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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