Friday 19th January 2018,

Asian Americans

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Medill Reports: Smoking in Chinese American Community Clouded in Mystery

posted by Randall

Anti-smoking campaignThe numbers say one thing.

The visual evidence says another.

The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention found in 2014 that the smoking rate among Asian Americans is 9.5% compared to 18.2% among Whites and 17.5% among Asians.

A similar survey by the Illinois Department of Public Health which includes Asian Americans in the category of “others” found a smoking rate of 9.6% in 2014.

Those that work closely with the Chinese American community and those who live or work in Chicago’s Chinatown see something different.

“We believe that IDPH’s (Survey) is a huge problem, because it lumps together Asian Americans in this ‘other’ category,” said Kevin Trieu, program coordinator at Asian Health Coalition. “It just doesn’t give a good representation of the Asian American community in Illinois.”

Mikki Lin, 21, who works in Chicago’s Chinatown Square considers smoking part of a relaxing break he can take with friends.

“It made me feel relaxed and helped take my mind off things,” Lin said. “I thought I could quit anytime I want to,” Lin said.

He now realizes he was wrong.

“They start out very young smoking in this continuous daily habit, like it’s normal for them, you see that it’s brought on from generation to generation,” said Allante Sandifer who delivers mail for the post office in Chinatown. “They just stand around, smoking cigarettes in groups.”

So how could this be? How can evidence in the Chinese American community indicate the large presence of smokers, but the surveys say something different given that Chinese Americans are the largest Asian American group in the country?

Trieu of the Asian Health Coalition believes the surveys under count Asian American smokers because the surveys are only done in English.

“There isn’t much that we know because of a lack of culturally [focused] research on this growing community in the U.S.,” Trieu said speaking about Chinese Americans. “We are slowly starting to change that, but we have a long way to go.

What’s your experience? Do you see smoking as prevalent in the Chinese American community?


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