Tobacco Prevention and Control:
Health Disparities

What are Health Disparities?

Health disparities are the preventable differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of disease and other adverse health conditions that exist between specific population groups.

Minnesota tobacco-related health disparities

In Minnesota, tobacco use is highest in American Indian populations. A recent report released by the American Indian Community Tobacco Projects found that 59 percent of American Indians in Minnesota smoke, an increase from previous years. Tobacco use among racial and ethnic groups is shown below for Minnesota adults.

Minnesota Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2011
Tribal Tobacco Use Project (TTUP) 2013


Similar disparities among racial and ethnic groups can also be seen in Minnesota’s adolescent populations. The charts below represent the use of cigarettes, and other tobacco products, within the past 30 days for Minnesota adolescents in grades 9 and 12.

Minnesota Student Survey, 2010

Minnesota Student Survey, 2010

Additionally, recent survey findings indicate that 30.8 percent of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) communities in Minnesota are current smokers.

U.S. tobacco-related health disparities

Health disparities are prominent in tobacco use and exposure throughout the US:

  • American Indians/Alaska Natives have the highest rate of smoking in the US.
  • Hispanic smokers born in the US smoke at a higher rate than those born elsewhere.
  • 25 percent of adults who identified themselves as multiracial or other race are current smokers, higher than any other racial/ethnic category.

Addressing tobacco-related health disparities

There is no single factor that determines patterns of tobacco use among racial and ethnic groups. These patterns are the result of complex interactions between several factors, such as socioeconomic status, cultural characteristics, targeted advertising, price of tobacco products, and the varying capacities of communities to implement effective tobacco control initiatives.

The Minnesota Department of Health provides grant funds to nonprofits, community health boards and tribal governments to change health outcomes by adopting policies, systems, and environmental change in their own communities. These communities work toward smoke-free air in settings such as multi-family housing and childcare, as well as tobacco free environments like workplaces, parks, and community celebrations and events.

This information is also available in PDF form: Tobacco-Related Health Disparities (PDF: 449KB/2 pages)

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Updated Friday, March 21, 2014 at 02:39PM