When people feel like they’re being discriminated against, no matter their race, they’re more likely to turn to smoking. Those are the new findings of researchers who looked at how perceived discrimination affects smoking rates.
“We found that regardless of race or ethnicity, the odds of current smoking were higher among individuals who perceived that they were treated differently because of their race, though racial and ethnic minority groups were more likely to report discrimination,” said Washington University in St. Louis professor James Purnell, a co-author of a new study out in the American Journal of Public Health.
“It’s important to understand the factors that promote smoking among racial and ethnic minority groups,” Purnell said in a statement.
The study underlines that people of color in particular, who are more likely to report having to deal with racial discrimination, may turn to smoking as a way to cope with the psychological stresses of prejudice. Researchers say their findings may offer some insights on how to develop new smoking cessation strategies for communities of color.
“Our findings also suggest that alternative forms of coping with discrimination may be a fruitful area of discussion in counseling interventions designed to help individuals quit smoking,” Purnell said.
Interpersonal racism impacts people’s health in more ways than one. Just last year researchers also found that people who felt like they dealt with racial discrimination lost actual sleep over it, and that it negatively impacted their health.