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SU study aims to help African Americans quit smoking
SU study aims to help African Americans quit smokingJune 07, 2006Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
A new Syracuse University study scheduled to begin later this month will focus on creating self-help interventions to enable African American smokers to kick the smoking habit. Monica Webb, assistant professor of psychology in The College of Arts and Sciences, is seeking 300 African American smokers between the ages of 18 and 65 to participate in the three-month study, which is funded by SU. The participants must smoke at least five cigarettes a day.
Webb’s research is in the area of health psychology, with an emphasis on the psychological aspects of tobacco addiction, motivation and treatment. She is especially interested in the mechanisms that underlie the effectiveness of tailored interventions for smoking cessation and how to improve tailored self-help materials. Webb also studies minority health and health disparities among smoking-related conditions.
“While African Americans fall slightly above the national average in terms of how many of them smoke, they have a much higher incidence of developing smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer and emphysema,” Webb says. “African American men are 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with and die from lung cancer.”
This may be due, in part, to the fact that many African Americans smoke mentholated cigarettes, which contain higher levels of tar and menthol. The “minty” smoke produced by such cigarettes tends to make smokers inhale more deeply and hold the smoke in their lungs for longer periods of time, thereby causing more damage to their lungs. While not all African Americans smoke this type of cigarette, Webb notes that tobacco companies often market them to African American consumers. Through this comprehensive self-help program for smoking cessation, Webb hopes to contribute to reducing the high level of smoking-related conditions that occur in the African American population.
After enrollment, participants will receive a three-stage self-help intervention. The first is an educational portion, during which smokers will learn about the health effects of smoking. The second stage is devoted to teaching participants how to quit. The last stage focuses on community organization and emphasizes communicating to others the importance of quitting and taking a stand against the tobacco industry.
Assessments will be conducted through mailed questionnaires and phone interviews, and a follow up assessment will take place after the participants have received the intervention materials.
Those interested in participating in the study should call 315-442-SMOK (7665).