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Prev Med. 2004 Apr;38(4):421-31.

Focus groups of Y-K Delta Alaska Natives: attitudes toward tobacco use and tobacco dependence interventions.

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Yukon--Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Bethel, AK, USA.



Tobacco dependence interventions developed for Alaska Natives are virtually nonexistent. Alaska Natives residing on the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y--K) Delta in southwestern Alaska use a unique form of smokeless tobacco (ST) known as Iqmik. This study employed focus group methodology to explore attitudes toward tobacco use and tobacco dependence interventions among Alaska Natives residing on the Y-K Delta.


Twelve focus groups of former and current tobacco users were conducted in four villages in the Y-K Delta. Participants were 35 adults (83% female) and 22 adolescents (27% female). Participants completed a brief demographic and tobacco use history form. Statements from the focus groups were transcribed for content coding and analysis of the major themes.


Use of Iqmik in the villages is thought to be ubiquitous. Y-K Delta Alaska Natives are introduced to Iqmik at a very young age. Iqmik is mostly used and prepared by young Alaska Natives and adult women. There are few perceived adverse health effects of Iqmik or other tobacco use. Although there is interest in stopping, there is a perceived lack of availability of tobacco dependence interventions. The major barriers to preventing the initiation of and stopping tobacco use are the social acceptance and widespread use and availability of tobacco.


The attitudes toward tobacco and identified barriers to stopping will be useful in developing tobacco dependence interventions for Alaska Natives.

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