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Black and Hispanic Americans are less likely to smoke cigarettes than white Americans. Yet once they’ve started, they’re more likely to stay hooked. National data show they successfully quit only about half as often as white smokers.

These communities often have less access to nicotine-replacement therapy and counseling that can help them quit. But experts say that’s only one piece of a much larger issue.

Black and Hispanic Americans, especially those with low income and education levels, often work or live in places without smoke-free laws, said Stella Bialous, an associate professor of social behavioral sciences at the University of California San Francisco. Being around others who smoke makes it more difficult to quit.

Higher levels of stress experienced by these communities also can make them more likely to turn to cigarettes for the relief nicotine can offer, said David Williams, a public-health professor at Harvard University who studies racial health disparities.

Given such obstacles, what could help these smokers quit? The federal Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has awarded $11 million to a team of researchers, led by the University of Pennsylvania, to answer that question.

The study will include 3,200 smokers who are black, Hispanic, live in a rural area, or have a low income or education level — all groups for whom data show smoking cessation is most challenging.

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