A new program designed to help smokers quit is now targeting the three groups in the United States with the highest rates of tobacco use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.8% of adults now smoke in the US, which is the lowest percentage since 1965. However, smoking rates are still notably higher among American Indians, individuals with mental health issues, and those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. QuitLogix is the largest non-profit smoking quitline in the country, according to Science Daily.

Amy Lukowski, PsyD, clinical director of Health Initiatives at National Jewish Health in Denver and for its QuitLogix program, says, “As an academic medical center devoted for decades to eliminating tobacco use and its associated disease states, we feel the imperative to better identify and understand the unique factors related to tobacco use in these groups and develop protocols that are specifically tailored to their needs.”

The Science Daily news report notes that more than 26% of American Indians are smokers, which is the highest rate of any ethnic group and notably higher than the national average. Prior to launching the American Indian Commercial Tobacco Program, Lukowski says researchers met with potential participants of quitline services to “better understand the best ways to address commercial tobacco from community members themselves, while still honoring traditional tobacco practices.”

In addition, quitline experts are also working to better counsel those with mental illness, who smoke at a rate of 36%, and those in the LGBT community. The Science Daily news report indicates that those in the LGBT community are up to 200% more likely than others to be addicted to cigarettes. Lukowski explains, “Tobacco companies have identified and targeted these groups as being populations more vulnerable to nicotine addiction and are shrewdly advertising directly to them.”

“We’re making great strides, but it’s evident that there are large groups of people who continue to struggle with tobacco and the chronic diseases associated with it,” says Lukowski. “We need to find ways to better reach and serve those vulnerable demographic groups that are disproportionately impacted by tobacco. If we’re going to help members of these populations quit smoking, we need to show the same level of interest in these groups as tobacco companies do.”

Source: Science Daily