UAMS College of Public Health researcher to study barriers to quitting menthol cigarettes among African Americans

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Dr. Dina M. Jones, an assistant professor in the Center for Tobacco Studies at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was awarded a K01 grant to conduct a study to understand disparities in smoking. quitting among African-American menthol cigarette smokers.

The K01, an esteemed career development award, is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

“It’s an honor to be awarded this grant,” Jones said. “It’s a huge opportunity. When you receive a K01, it means that the assessors judge the proposed training plan and research project to be top-notch and that you receive intensive support to develop your career. Also, I am the first person in the history of this college to receive the award. I look forward to researching factors that predict real-time smoking cessation among African American smokers. »

Funded in August 2022, the UQuit study will continue through 2027.

The project examines why African American cigarette smokers – more than 85% of whom use menthol cigarettes – are less likely to quit than white smokers and those who use menthol-free cigarettes.

People participating in the study will reside in Little Rock or North Little Rock and will be between the ages of 21 and 75. Entrants must plan or want to quit smoking within the next 30 days on a scheduled quit date and have regular access to a smartphone.

Jones is using word of mouth, social media, community events, the college website, and tobacco center community partners to recruit African American menthol cigarette smokers for the study.

“African Americans who smoke cigarettes generally prefer menthol cigarettes. But it’s not by chance,” she said. “Research has shown that tobacco companies have used various forms of advertising, marketing, and partnerships with black community leaders to intentionally push the use of menthol cigarettes in the black community.”

Jones said the soothing and refreshing taste, along with smoking being a way to cope with stress, are among the main reasons many African-American smokers continue to smoke menthol cigarettes.

Additionally, compared to non-menthol smokers – who are more likely to be white – African American menthol cigarette smokers have a greater dependence on nicotine despite generally smoking fewer cigarettes per day, which makes their dropout rates even more confusing.

The UQuit study will follow participants before and after trying to quit smoking. Jones aims to assess how changes in a participant’s mood, nicotine cravings, stress levels, as well as exposure to stressors like discrimination and tobacco advertising influence the likelihood of relapse.

Jones’ goal is to use data from the UQuit study to create interventions that increase smoking cessation success among African American menthol cigarette smokers. A broader goal of Jones’ work is to eliminate tobacco-related health disparities given that African Americans have disproportionately high rates of morbidity and death from tobacco, including cancer, compared to to white smokers.

A key part of this goal is to survey people who can successfully quit smoking menthol cigarettes.

“Most African Americans don’t know that menthol cigarettes are harder to quit than non-menthol cigarettes, and many prefer to quit on their own without any help or assistance,” Jones said. “If we include people who are able to successfully quit smoking in the study and compare their characteristics, their daily circumstances and how they manage their lives once they quit, to those who relapse, this could enormously help our research.”

UAMS is the only health sciences university in the state, with colleges of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, health professions, and public health; a doctoral school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwestern Arkansas Regional Campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses the entire clinical enterprise of UAMS. UAMS is the only Level 1 adult trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,047 students, 873 medical residents and fellows, and six resident dentists. It is the largest public employer in the state with more than 11,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide patient care at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, TwitterYouTube or Instagram.

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