African Americans Are Disproportionately Exposed To Secondhand Smoke

African Americans are disproportionately exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) and heavily marketed to by the tobacco industry, resulting in greater rates of illness and death than the general population.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s report Vital Signs: Disparities in Nonsmokers’ Exposure to Secondhand Smoke—United States, 1999–2012, African American children and adults are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than any other racial or ethnic group, with nearly half of Black nonsmokers exposed to SHS, including 7 in 10 Black children.

This report found that during 2011–2012:

  • 67.9% of African American children aged 3–11 years were exposed.
  • 54.6% of African American adolescents aged 12–19 years were exposed.
  • 39.6% of African American adults aged 20 years and older were exposed.
  • African American nonsmokers generally have higher cotinine levels (an indicator of recent exposure to tobacco smoke) than nonsmokers of other races/ethnicities.

Visit The Center for Black Health & Equity for more information.