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Smoking May Be Deadlier for Blacks

April 27, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Black men who smoke and get lung cancer are much more likely to die from the disease than white males who light up. But death rates are lower among other minorities.

A study on minority smoking habits, released today by Surgeon General David Satcher, looked at four ethnic groups that together make up a quarter of the nation’s population. It concluded that black men ``bear one of the greatest health burdens.″

According to the study, 81 percent of African-American men who smoke and have contracted lung cancer die from the disease, compared to 54 percent of their white counterparts.

A quarter of Hispanic male smokers with lung cancer die from it, about the same as the death rate among Asian male smokers stricken with the disease. Thirty-two percent of American-Indian men who smoke die from lung cancer, the study shows.

Overall, the number of adult smokers has declined this decade, according to the study.

Another report released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control showed that smoking by black students _ once hailed as a success story for their continually low cigarette use _ has almost doubled.

Smoking among black teens has increased 80 percent over the last six years, three times as fast as among white students, the study showed.

Satcher’s report is the Clinton administration’s latest salvo in Washington’s election-year tobacco wars, as Congress struggles to agree on a policy that would reduce teen smoking.

The report also is more bad publicity for tobacco companies trying to convince Congress to reject proposals the industry says would drive it out of business. But lawmakers have been reluctant to go easy on an industry described by documents to have marketed their product to teens and minorities.

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