A Transnational Study of Migration and Smoking Behavior in the Mexican-origin Population

Published In: American Journal of Public Health, v. 102, no. 11, Nov. 2012, p. 2116-2122

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by Elisa Tong, Naomi Saito, Daniel J. Tancredi, Guilherme Borges, Richard L. Kravitz, Ladson Hinton, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, María Elena Icaza Medina-Mora, Joshua Breslau

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OBJECTIVES: We examined migration-related changes in smoking behavior in the transnational Mexican-origin population. METHODS: We combined epidemiological surveys from Mexico (Mexican National Comorbidity Survey) and the United States (Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys). We compared 4 groups with increasing US contact with respect to smoking initiation, persistence, and daily cigarette consumption: Mexicans with no migrant in their family, Mexicans with a migrant in their family or previous migration experience, migrants, and US-born Mexican Americans. RESULTS: Compared with Mexicans with a migrant in their family or previous migration experience, migrants were less likely to initiate smoking (odds ratio [OR] = 0.56; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.38, 0.83) and less likely to be persistent smokers (OR = 0.41; 95% CI = 0.26, 0.63). Among daily smokers, the US-born smoked more cigarettes per day than did Mexicans with a migrant in their family or previous migration experience for men (7.8 vs 6.5) and women (8.6 vs 4.3). CONCLUSIONS: Evidence suggests that smoking is suppressed among migrants relative to the broader transnational Mexican-origin population. The pattern of low daily cigarette consumption among US-born Mexican Americans, noted in previous research, represents an increase relative to smokers in Mexico.

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