Enhancing Validity of South Asian Tobacco Survey Module

Sponsor: UC Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program

Location(s): United States


Tobacco use is extremely dangerous to the health of those who use them and others who are exposed to second-hand and outdoor smoke. Certain groups of people, such as individuals who have moved here from other countries, use forms of tobacco that are specific to their cultures. These people are often unaware of the health risks of using these products and continue to use them to celebrate their ethnic identity. These products are sometimes brought into the country and sold illegally, and don’t have the warning labels required by federal agencies to ensure that users are aware of how these forms of tobacco cause heart disease and cancer. In addition, researchers don’t know how many people are using these tobacco products and how often they are being used. In order to measure rates of tobacco use, scientists in universities and public health agencies use questionnaires to ask members of the public if they smoke and if they do, how often and for how long. However, these surveys don’t ask about tobacco products that are specific to certain minority groups. This study will help improve a survey created to measure use of culturally-specific tobacco products by South Asians in California and throughout the United States. South Asians are individuals who themselves have come from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, or have relatives who have come from these countries.

The number of South Asians in California and the United States is growing at a rapid pace. However, surveys administered by federal and state public health agencies don’t ask about tobacco products that South Asians are known to use often (across the globe and in some parts of the United States). This project will have expert researchers and members of the South Asian community review and provide information about the strengths and weaknesses of an existing survey to make sure that it is asking the right questions in an appropriate way. Once South Asians provide information about the most effective way(s) to ask about their tobacco use, researchers will be able to design a strategy that allows them to use the survey to reach large numbers of South Asians in California and the United States. Understanding the causes of diseases related to tobacco use is very important in developing programs and policies to prevent these illnesses. As California continues to have rapid increases in the growth of minority populations, researchers need to understand the impact of all forms of tobacco, including those that are used for cultural reasons.