A Focus on Smoking Habits of Hawaii’s Filipinos

In the United States, cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death, but surprisingly, it is a health issue that continues to affect ethnic minorities at a disproportionate rate, including Filipinos.

Whether we look at smoking habits of Filipinos in Hawai‘i, on the mainland, or in the Philippines, it is clear that the impact of tobacco use among Filipinos has broad cultural reaches.

The first layer of examination begins in the Philippines, where more than 17 million kababayan smoke cigarettes daily, with males accounting for almost half of the smoking population along with 2.8 million adult females.

While it is true that smoking rates are decreasing globally, cigarettes (priced as little as one peso) are conveniently accessible at mom and pop sari-sari stores and through street vendors in traffic, enabling a habit that is much easier to adopt than it is to say no.

Unfortunately, the health effects of tobacco have no geographical boundaries, which continues to have negative consequences as Pinoys emigrate to different areas of the world, including Hawai‘i.

In Hawai‘i, the smoking prevalence ranks 8th lowest in the country at 14.1 percent. Despite this progress, there is a stark disparity within the Filipino community in Hawai‘i – the smoking prevalence among Filipino adult males is almost three times higher at 18.3 percent compared to 6.7 percent among Filipino adult females.

Further demonstrating tobacco’s influence, the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) reports that in Hawai‘i’s public high schools, Filipino girls, as well as Filipino boys, smoke at a rate of 6.8 percent.

Quit Smoking Resources

During Minority Health Awareness and Disparities Month this April, we aim to raise awareness about health inequalities among minority communities, but it is equally important to raise awareness about the resources that will help contribute to healthier outcomes for our state.

According to a 2012 study published in the Journal Community of Health, Filipinos in Hawai‘i reported lesser knowledge of tobacco cessation methods and products, and less frequent usage of them than other ethnic groups. By this it is clear that when it comes to smoking, the first step to helping this community achieve health equity is to empower Filipino residents with the resources and knowledge they need to quit smoking, or to prevent tobacco use all together.

One such resource is the Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline, a service offered by the DOH providing FREE phone-based or web-based coaching for all Hawai‘i residents.

Current smokers who are interested in quitting are encouraged to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, or visit HawaiiQuitline.org to enroll in an online coaching program and learn about community quit-smoking programs.

In addition, MedQuest subscribers can get up to four weeks of FREE nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum, patches, or lozenges. Community quit smoking programs are available for those wanting an in-person individual or group counseling setting for their quitting. Check with the program to find out if they offer free or subsidized nicotine replacement therapies.

Originally published in the Fil-Am Courier (April 16, 2017)

New Strategies Proposed to Help Native Hawaiian Communities Become Smoke-Free

Over the past decades, tobacco prevention and control efforts in Hawai‘i have contributed to a significant decrease in residents who smoke. While Hawai‘i has the eighth lowest adult smoking rate in the nation, these improvements have not translated equally across all communities. A 2014 study conducted by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) found the smoking prevalence among Native Hawaiians is almost double the state smoking rate. In response, the DOH, Hawai‘i Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Board, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, and other community stakeholders selected Native Hawaiians as one of its priorities in the new Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Five-Year Strategic Plan.

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Governor Ige Signs Historic Smoking Measure

HONOLULU – June 19, 2015 – Gov. David Ige signed the historic tobacco legislation, Senate Bill 1030 (Act 122) into law Friday, June 19. When enacted on January 1, 2016, Act 122 will make Hawai‘i the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale, purchase, possession or consumption of cigarettes, other tobacco products, and electronic smoking devices (or e-cigarettes) to anyone under age 21.
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Governor Ige Signs Clean Air Bill, Banning Use of E-Cigarettes Where Smoking Is Prohibited

HONOLULU – April 24, 2015 – The Department of Health applauds Governor Ige, members of the legislature, and partners statewide for passing and signing Act 19 (HB 940), which restricts the use of electronic smoking devices, or e-cigarettes, in all locations where smoking is illegal. Act 19 upholds the protections created by Hawaii’s very successful Smoke-Free Workplace and Public Places Law, enacted in 2006. The signing of this historic legislation makes Hawaii the fourth U.S. state to have passed such a bill, after North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah.
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Department of Health’s Tobacco Quitline Partners with Safeway Pharmacy to Help Hawaii Residents Quit Smoking

HONOLULU – April 8, 2015 – The Hawaii State Department of Health’s (DOH) Tobacco Quitline has entered into a partnership with local Safeway Pharmacies in an effort to help its patients quit smoking. The ten Safeway Pharmacy locations across the islands will now provide Quitline materials and referrals to their patients, helping to encourage Hawaii residents to enroll in Quitline services. Research has shown that smokers who use the Quitline are up to 14 times more likely to stay quit than those who quit on their own.
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Hawaii News Now Partners with Hawaii Tobacco Quitline for 10 PM News Takeover

Honolulu – November 14th, 2014 – Hawaii News Now (HNN) has partnered with the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline to promote the Great American Smokeout (GASO) with a complete takeover of Hawaii News Now at 10:00, broadcast on KGMB and KHNL, on November 19, 2014. The takeover is on the eve of GASO and will broadcast extended real stories of ex-smokers who succeeded with the help of the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline.
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