Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 15, 2005
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Study: Asian Americans experience
high secondhand smoke exposure

A recent Temple study found that involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke continues to be a significant problem for Asian Americans. For this report, published recently in Preventive Medicine, public health professor Grace Ma and her colleagues surveyed 1,374 Asian Americans, which included Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Cambodian participants.

“We looked at each person’s smoking status and exposure level, as well as their attitudes and behavior,” said Ma, who also serves as director and principal investigator of Temple’s Center for Asian Health. “Almost 40 percent had been exposed to this hazard in their homes and workplaces.”

Within the last decade, the Environmental Protection Agency classified secondhand smoke as a “carcinogen responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in U.S. nonsmokers.”

Ma has spent her career investigating the risk factors associated with high rates of smoking and lung, cervical, breast and colorectal cancers among Asian Americans and providing culturally competent and evidence-based interventions for these populations.

According to Ma, Asian Americans who have a greater awareness of the health risks associated with smoking are less tolerant of being exposed to secondhand smoke. Furthermore, Ma was able to establish links between an individual’s knowledge, tolerance level and his/her ethnic group, gender, education and smoking status.

“Any effective tobacco prevention, intervention and cessation program would have to stress a zero-tolerance policy for home, work and public areas and emphasize the adverse health effects of secondhand smoke,” Ma said.

Ma has dedicated her career to improving health care for underserved minority populations.

Over the past 20 years, she has focused on community-based participatory research in healthcare access, cancer prevention and early detection, health disparities, smoking cessation and other substance abuse interventions among minority populations. Her contributions have influenced public health education, research and practices in the United States and China.

- By Tory Harris