Hunter Professor Awarded Grant for Smoking Study

Dee Burton of Hunter’s Center for Community and Urban Health has been awarded a $378,000 research grant from the New York State Department of Health for an innovative program aimed at helping Chinese restaurant workers stop smoking.

The launch of the Chinese Restaurant Workers Project on Dec. 15 — which was reported in several major Chinese newspapers — involves incorporating Chinese cultural traditions into a unique counseling plan for smokers recruited from restaurants in Flushing, Queens.

“Smoking is more prevalent among Chinese — American men than any other group except Native-Americans,” said Dr. Burton, an adjunct associate professor in the School of Health Sciences. “Chinese restaurant workers tend to be recent immigrants who work long hours – and their smoking provides a bond to their homeland, where most men smoke.”

The Center’s three-year study will offer phone counseling to the workers in Mandarin, Cantonese, Fujianese and Wenzhounese dialects. There will also be other customized approaches provided such as Chinese meditation exercises and quit-smoking teas.

“At the end of the three years, we’d like to have a protocol for smoking cessation based on Chinese cultural traditions and then see that incorporated into the regular stop-smoking programs within the community by hospitals and volunteer groups,” Burton said.

Burton is a co-director of the Center, which is part of Hunter’s School of the Health Professions. Asian Americans for Equality, a community organization, is collaborating with Hunter College on the study.