An UNDO Project
Last Updated: 3/10/2023
An Asian/Pacific Islander man with a soccer ballAn Asian/Pacific Islander man with clones of him standing next to each other in a dark background

Asian/Pacific Islander

Download this story

The Story of Asian/Pacific Islander

A tobacco executive was quoted calling Asian/Pacific Islander communities “a potential gold mine” because people who are Asian/Pacific Islander are “pre-disposed” to smoking, insinuating all people who identify as Asian/Pacific Islander are exactly alike when it comes to getting easily hooked on their deadly products.1 While we know that’s not true, we do know that Big Tobacco is predisposed to greed. Because of this, Big Tobacco is particularly aggressive in its advertising to Asian/Pacific Islander communities, placing more advertising on billboards and inside stores in urban neighborhoods where people predominantly identify as Asian American.2 And while Lunar New Years are symbolic of new beginnings occasions to honor deities and ancestors tobacco companies see them as opportunities to prey on Asian/Pacific Islander communities, feigning support to promote their harmful products.

Though the overall smoking rate for people who identify as Asian/Pacific Islander is at less than 10 percent, the lowest of all compared populations, gender and ethnicity play a role. For example, for Asian/Pacific Islander men, the smoking rate is just over 16 percent.3 And Big Tobacco makes its products cheaper in Pacific Islander communities than in Asian communities.4 Pacific Islander youth also have higher smoking and tobacco use rates than among Asian youth.5

Asian/Pacific Islander communities are taking steps to protect their youth, and have seen the largest percentage drops in youth smoking over the past 15 years.6 The numbers are going in the right direction, but the fight isn’t over until that number is zero.

The proof is in the data

[Data last updated March 2023 ]
Indicator
General population
Adult tobacco use
1. Adult cigarette use: Adult cigarette smoking prevalence
4.2%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
6.7%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
2. Change in adult cigarette use: Rate of change in adult cigarette smoking, 2014 to 2020
-54.8%
The 2020 estimate is significantly lower than the 2014 estimate.
-46.4%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2013-14. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
3. Adult tobacco use: Adult tobacco use prevalence (e.g., cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)
7.3%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
11.3%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Youth tobacco use
4. Youth cigarette use: Youth cigarette smoking prevalence
0.5%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
1.2%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
5. Change in youth cigarette use: Rate of change in youth cigarette smoking, 2016 to 2020
-68.8%
The 2020 estimate is significantly lower than the 2016 estimate.
-72.1%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2015-16. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
6. Youth tobacco use: Youth tobacco use prevalence (e.g., cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other vaping products, other tobacco products)
5.7%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
9.7%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
Availability of tobacco & tobacco industry influence
7. Cheapest cigarettes: Average price for the cheapest pack of cigarettes
$7.18
$7.11
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
8. Flavored little cigar price: Average price for a single flavored little cigar/cigarillo
$1.03
$0.97
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2016. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2011-2015. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
9. Tobacco retail licensing: Proportion of population protected by a strong tobacco retail licensing law
63.2%
59.5%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, April 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2015-2019. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
10. Tobacco stores: Density of stores selling tobacco per 100,000 residents
54.5
The estimate is 10.0 stores per 100,000 lower than the California general population.
77
  • California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Retailer Licensees, November 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
11. Flavored tobacco: Proportion of stores that sell flavored non-cigarette tobacco products
72.8%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
81.8%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
12. Menthol cigarettes: Proportion of stores that sell menthol cigarettes
83.4%
88.3%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
13. Tobacco advertising: Proportion of stores that keep 90% of their storefront free from any advertising
46.3%
40.1%
  • Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, 2019. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2014-2018. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
Secondhand smoke
14. Adult secondhand tobacco exposure: Proportion of adults exposed to secondhand smoke or vape
30.1%
The estimate is significantly lower than the California general population.
35.2%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
15. Youth secondhand tobacco exposure: Proportion of youth exposed to secondhand smoke or vape
29.7%
33.1%
  • California Student Tobacco Survey, 2019-20. San Diego, CA: Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, University of California, San Diego.
16. Smoke-free multi-unit housing: Proportion of population protected by a smoke-free multi-unit housing law
72.1%
66.7%
  • Policy Evaluation Tracking System, April 2021. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program.
  • American Community Survey, 2015-2019. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Decennial Census, 2010. Suitland, MD: U.S. Census Bureau.
17. Smoke-free homes: Proportion of adults with smoke-free homes
92.5%
91.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Cessation
18. Quitting: Proportion of smokers who tried quitting in the last 12 months
62.8%
55.6%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
19. Doctor advice to quit: Proportion of smokers whose doctors advised them to quit
48.5%
46.8%
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2017-18. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Kick It California
Percent of enrollees
Percent of smokers
20. Kick It California enrollees: Proportion of Kick It California enrollees
8.1%
8.8%
of smokers are Asian/Pacific Islander
  • California Smokers’ Helpline Caller Intake Reports, 2020. San Diego, CA: California Smokers’ Helpline, University of California, San Diego.
  • California Health Interview Survey, 2019-20. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
An Asian/Pacific Islander man with a soccer ballAn Asian/Pacific Islander man with a soccer ball

How you can help

You have a voice and can make a difference.
SPEAK UP
An Asian/Pacific Islander man standing with clones of him next to each other

A Story of Inequity

Tobacco’s impact on health disparities in California

For decades, the tobacco industry has aggressively targeted California’s diverse communities with predatory practices. Internal documents from Big Tobacco outline their strategies – many of which are shocking attempts to peddle deadly products by way of product discounts and manipulative advertising. They even gave away free products to youth in the past. These tactics masquerade as support for communities under the guise of cultural celebration.

Unfortunately, the tactics have worked. Big Tobacco aggressively targeted communities and, as a result, some populations have higher rates of tobacco use, experience greater secondhand smoke exposure at work and at home, and have higher rates of tobacco-related disease than the general population.1

Addressing tobacco-related health inequities is key to California’s efforts to fight tobacco, our state’s number one cause of preventable death and disease.2 Tobacco use, pricing, and its impact across California were analyzed where significant disparities were found across various populations. See how Big Tobacco affects each community in the Nation’s most diverse state.

A Story Of Inequity methodology >