Given such a diverse population of AANHPI subgroups, each have their own cultural differences. It is important to address these variations to deliver a culturally appropriate message. Historically, tobacco has played a role in many cultures and is used in some form for medicinal, functional, and spiritual purposes.

In Southeast Asia and in the Pacific Islands, tobacco is traditionally wrapped around betel nut. Betel nut is combined with tobacco leaves and other flavorings, commonly referred to as paan or gutka. Over 30% of South Asians in the US use chewing tobacco in this manner.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the leading causes of death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are: Cancer, Heart Disease, and Stroke. ALL of which are tobacco-related illnesses.

CDC also reports that Asian Americans have a smoking prevalence rate of 10.9% and 28.1% among Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. However, the overall Asian American smoking prevalence rate masks disparities by heritage. The Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL) report high prevalence rates among Vietnamese with 51%, Laotians at 48%, and Cambodians at 39%.


Tobacco companies have many strategies in marketing and advertising to selected populations, especially Asians since smoking has a cultural significance in regards to business interactions and relations, and integrating into American society.

asianad1” …the Asian American typically holds a strong belief in the value of family…this identification with family/community tends to enhance their receptivity to ads using Asian models.”

– Research conducted by RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Co.


“Its [Marlboro] broad popularity among Chinese-Americans along with its strong American imagery of cowboys, strength and adventure were cited as a direct influence on their choice to smoke that brand.”

– Research conducted by Lorillard Tobacco Co. on Marlboro


  • Cigarettes expose smokers and nonsmokers to over 7,000 chemicals; at least 69 of them can cause cancer.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of death in all communities, killing more people than HIV/AIDS, illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents and guns combined.
  • Tobacco harms nearly EVERY organ in the body.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure can increase a nonsmoker’s chance of developing heart disease and lung cancer by 20-30%.
  • Smokeless Tobacco (Chewing tobacco) can still cause oral cancer, heart/gum disease and other oral lesions other than cancer (i.e. leukoplakia, precancerous white patches in the mouth)


This information is available as a fact sheet or presentation.

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