New Americans and immigrants represent a vulnerable segment of the population when it comes to the deadly effects of tobacco and tobacco messaging. The overall rate of smoking among New Americans and immigrants is 21.6%. In Portland, Maine, communities ranked tobacco use as either the number one or number two health problem in seven out of 11 communities studied. Tailoring tobacco-related health messages and reducing health disparities among minority communities in the state is vital to our efforts in tobacco use prevention.
Facts about smoking and New Americans and immigrants:
Get more information from the New Americans & Immigrants Fact Sheet.
The attitude and desire to quit is found to be lower in New Americans and immigrants, and often acceptance of smoking by the country of origin contributes to these smoking rates. Health services that might include quitting services are not easily available to immigrants and confusion about eligibility, communication barriers, and fears of denial of green cards contribute to this problem. Also, immigrants who arrive in the county after 8/96 are barred for five years from TANF, Medicaid and SCHIP, when their need for assistance is highest. The need for health messages that are delivered person-to-person is crucial for this population, and the need for interpreters is central to this effort.
The Minority Health Program (MHP) of the Public Health Division, Health and Human Services Department, and City of Portland was established to help address the health related issues and needs of all minority communities in the Greater Portland area.