Though smoking is on the decline in America, “social smoking” is increasing for Asian Americans. According to the American Lung Association, APAs have the lowest smoking rates among adults. However, that doesn’t tell us the full story of the dangers of Asian American youth smokers.
Many of the studies today are focused on the guidelines of heavy smoking. As for the Asian American community, the percentage of light and intermittent smokers is probably higher than the numbers that are published. This doesn’t mean light smokers aren’t affected. The Center of Disease Control did a study that shows that even some light smokers are associated with premature mortality.
Most of the Asian American social smokers are typically college students—females and highly educated. The main reason why Asian Americans would even think of lighting up a cigarette is because of the environment they find themselves in at social gatherings and parties. People around them are often smoking their cigarettes away and maybe even offering cigarettes to their friends to try. This explains why light and intermittent smoking is so popular among Asian Americans.
One Asian American college student who wants to remain her name anonymous told me how she started smoking. She took her first puff of cigarette at a college party. She only smokes in social settings so she could “fit in” and “look cool.” She said she isn’t addicted to cigarettes at all. But eventually, she started to make an association with alcohol and cigarette—you can’t have one without the other.
Are Asian Americans really that easily peer pressured to do something even if it is harmful? Most of us already had to fit in to be the model minority, and now we even have to start smoking to be “cool”? Why can’t we just be nerds or computer geeks like the rest of America thinks we are? At least we won’t increase our risk of getting cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases that way.