Ms. Alexis Feinberg, an alumna of CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), along with Ms. Priscilla Lopez, a current doctoral student at the school, and Dr. Katarzyna Wyka, a CUNY SPH faculty member, along wtih colleagues examined prevalence and correlates of smoking among low-income adults residing in New York City public housing. The findings were published in the Journal of Urban Health.
This study was undertaken because current tobacco control approaches are not adequately meeting the health needs of lower-income adults and underserved racial/ethnic groups. In addition to prevalence, the research team described the sociodemographic, health, and healthcare use characteristics of adult smokers in public housing.
The team analyzed self-reported data from a random sample of 1664 residents, aged 35 years and older, in 10 New York City public housing developments in East and Central Harlem. The data was statistically weighted by race/ethnicity, gender, and household role to be demographically representative of the selected public housing developments.
The revealed smoking prevalence to be 20.8%. The majority of residents were female (73.0%), half were Latino (50.3%), 35.7% had less than a high school education, and 43.4% were born outside of the United States. More than half of the residents (53.7%) reported a diagnosis of hypertension, while 27.6% reported diabetes, 28.7% reported current or past asthma, and 25.9% reported having depression.
The statistical models identified to be having Medicaid, not having a personal doctor, and using health clinics for routine care were positively associated with smoking. Smokers without a personal doctor were less likely to receive provider quit advice.
The research team concluded that while most smokers in these public housing developments had health insurance, a personal doctor, and received provider cessation advice in the last year (72.4%), persistently high smoking rates suggest that such cessation advice may be insufficient. Efforts to eliminate differences in tobacco use should consider place-based smoking cessation interventions that extend cessation support beyond clinical settings.
Discussing the importance of the findings, Ms. Feinberg expains, “The study found that along with high smoking rates, residents had a strong connection to the medical system. Within the context of an upcoming federal smoking ban in these developments, the data underscore the importance of implementing place-based initiatives to extend cessation support beyond clinical settings.”
Feinberg, A., Lopez, P., Wyka, K., Islam, N., Seidl, L., Drackett, E., Mata, A., Pinzon, J., Baker, M., Lopez, J., Trinh-Shevrin, C., Shelley, D., Bailey, Z., Maybank, K. and Thorpe, L. (2017). Prevalence and Correlates of Smoking among Low-Income Adults Residing in New York City Public Housing Developments—2015. Journal of Urban Health, 94(4), pp.525-533.