Lead researcher Dennis Trinidad of Claremont Graduate University's School of Community and Global Health, and colleagues at University of California at San Francisco, University of California at San Diego and the University of Illinois at Chicago, based their findings on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The census. in partnership with the National Cancer Institute, surveyed residents on their smoking habits.
"Our understanding of how to get people to quit smoking has been based on those who were the heaviest smokers, that is, those who smoked a pack a day or more," Trinidad said in a statement. "Now, as the smoking population shifts to include more light smokers, we may need to look for better ways to help them stop."
The study, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, showed racial and ethnic minorities are generally more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be light smokers, but smokers in that group who tried to quit did no better, and in some cases fared worse, than among non-Hispanic whites.