LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender)

Tobacco is a major issue in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. Partly due to the tobacco industry's relentless campaign to target gay men and women through bar promotions, sponsorships, and advertisements in the queer press, LGBT adults and youth have roughly 40%-70% higher smoking rates than the general population; and bartenders and cocktail servers in LGBT oriented nightclubs are disproportionately exposed to secondhand smoke.


More and more, the LGBT community is liberating itself from tobacco and choosing to be smokefree. Recently, a group of tobacco and LGBT advocates created the National LGBT Communities Tobacco Action Plan to establish key criteria and goals to actively address and fight the disproportionate health problems associated with tobacco in LGBT youth and adult communities.

What can you do to stymie the tobacco industry and save lives?

  1. Protect your employees and patrons, and go smokefree! Results of a national survey disclose that the vast majority of those who identify as LGBT prefer smokefree environments. According to an article in The Advocate, published on January 15, 2003, of those in favor, 70% indicated they would pay more to get into a smokefree bar or nightclub.

  2. Make your smokefree coalition and campaign more accessible to the LGBT community early and often.

  3. Resolve not to accept tobacco industry sponsorships or contributions. The National Association of LGBT Community Centers' resolution has good model language.

  4. Choose to be smokefree and assist cessation efforts. Get involved in the Gay American Smoke Out.


ANR (staff members Frieda Glantz and Len Casey pictured here) partnered with CLASH (Coalition of Lavender Americans on Smoking and Health) to promote smokefree bodies and workplaces at the 2005 Creating Change Conference in Oakland, CA.






UK nursing professor's study of anti-tobacco campaign underscores power of community action - January 27, 2016

An anti-smoking intervention implemented and studied by University of Kentucky College of Nursing assistant professor Amanda Fallin recently proved effective in counteracting pro-tobacco promotions and ending the presence of free or low-cost tobacco products in LGBT social venues. … Started in July of 2013, the campaign developed educational materials about smoking and tracked the promotions of cigarettes and e-cigarettes in LGBT bars. …

Health campaign targets smoking in LGBT community
Los Angeles Times - November 22, 2013

Gay, lesbian and bisexual adults in Los Angeles smoke at a rate more than 50% higher than their straight counterparts and suffer disproportionately from the ill effects of tobacco use, health officials reported Thursday at the introduction of a new count

Hamilton LGBT group to discuss tobacco marketing strategies
Montana Standard - June 20, 2013

The advertisements give gay people the impression that the tobacco industry whole-heartedly supports the legitimization and approval of the LGBT community.”...

Alaska PrideFestival Goes Smoke Free June 13, 2013

An event celebrating the local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) culture and community is going smoke free this year. For the first time in the ...

CDC Targets Anti-Smoking Efforts At LGBT Community: 'This Is A Justice and Equity Issue'
ThinkProgress - April 1, 2013

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just rolled out a new anti-smoking campaign highlighting the negative effects of tobacco-related illnesses. The agency wants to emphasize all of the ways that smoking can indirectly impact a wider circle of people, like smokers’ loved ones or people breathing in secondhand smoke in public places. CDC officials also hope to influence a demographic they are particularly concerned about reaching: the LGBT community. …

LGBTQ super-heroes to fight Big Tobacco in Utah
Salt Lake Tribune - March 17, 2013

Out of the Smoke, the Utah Pride Center’s anti-tobacco group, is inviting young people, according to the center, "to dust off their spandex, find their capes and get ready to take a stand against Big Tobacco in honor of Kick Butts Day." ...

Gay tobacco opponents aim at secondhand smoke
Bay Area Reporter 43(5) - January 31, 2013

Seeking to curb exposure to secondhand smoke in San Francisco's gay bars that have outside patios where smoking is allowed, the Freedom from Tobacco group unveiled a new study last week that showed four bars they surveyed had "unhealthy" air quality measurements. The study, conducted with UCSF in December 2011, found that the two bars had air quality measurements ranging from "unhealthy" to "very unhealthy" on the Environmental Protection Agency scale; one bar ranged from "unhealthy for sensitive groups" to "unhealthy;" and one bar ranged from "moderate" to "unhealthy." Data was collected using a TSI SidePak AM 510 device. …

Is tobacco a gay issue?
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian - January 31, 2013

Tobacco is responsible for one in five deaths in the United States and is cited as the number one cause of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The ACS lists statistics about how smoking is linked to both race and age, but mentions nothing about the disproportionate link to orientation found in recent studies. In an article in the journal of Cancer, Causes, and Control, it was found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals smoke at rates 50 percent to 200 percent greater than the general public, which makes them one of the groups most severely affected by smoking. …

LGBT Health Awareness Week: Clearing the air
Windy City Times - March 28, 2012

...Americans for Nonsmokers Rights agreed smoking is a big problem for the LGBT community. The organization lays blame at the tobacco industry's collective ...

University of Missouri probes high smoking rate of gays, lesbians
KSDK-TV Ch. 5 (St. Louis, MO), 2011-12-21

University researchers are tapping a community health grant worth more than $300,000 to study the high smoking rate among gays and lesbians in Missouri. ...

LGBT smoking cessation resources to be included in CDC's health equity user's guide
San Diego (CA) Gay and Lesbian News, 2011-03-17
Emilia Dunham -- Program Associate, The Network

Two weeks ago, The Network (for LGBT Tobacco Control) was asked to offer some recommendations of LGBT resources for CDC’s health equity user’s guide. This was an exciting opportunity which we were glad to take on! ...

Cigarette companies target LGBTs
LGBTs more likely to smoke
Pride Source Media Group (Livonia, MI), 2011-03-17
Lucy Hough

The presence of LGBT themes in cigarette ads surprised a crowd of people at a workshop during the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference at the University of Michigan last month. Because LGBT people are more likely to smoke cigarettes, the industry has responded accordingly. ...

LA Gay & Lesbian Center bans smoking outdoors
WeHo News - August 2, 2010

West Hollywood, California (August 2, 2010) - The LA Gay & Lesbian Center is helping the LGBT community breathe easier by expanding its existing smoking ban, which already prohibited smoking in indoor areas, to include the areas outside its McDonald/Wright building and Village at Ed Gould Plaza facilities. ...

American Lung Association Highlights Health Disparity in New Report on Tobacco Prevalence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community
U.S. Newswire, 2010-06-29

The American Lung Association's latest health disparity report, Smoking Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community, examines the trend of higher tobacco use among the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the need for additional research specific to this community.

Most state and national health surveys do not collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity; however, there are current data indicating the LGBT population smokes at a higher rate than the general public. ...

“Do you have a light?” Smoking keeps tight grip on LGBT community
Northwestern University, 2009-01-15

“The Illinois Tobacco Quitline is just busting at the seams this month,” said Sherrill Keefe, director of American Lung Association of Illinois-Greater Chicago. “People say, ‘This is the year I’m going to quit smoking.’”

But members of the LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) community are 35 to 200 percent more likely to be smokers than the general public, according to the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network based in Boston.

Karyn Haney, a lesbian who quit smoking three years ago this January, is the project coordinator for Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center’s “It’s a Bitch to Quit” smoking cessation program. The center launched its current program at the beginning of the month.

“People in the program aren’t necessarily saying 'I’m smoking because I’m gay.' But there are stressors that push the LGBT numbers higher,” she said. “Every time I check my voicemail to see who wants to sign up for the program, it’s full.”

For some LGBT individuals, stress can stem from lack of acceptance, social isolation, low self-esteem and other psychological issues that often impact minorities can lead to coping behaviors such as smoking and even alcohol abuse, which is also more prevalent in the LGBT community. . . .

Beyond HIV: The gay community’s biggest health threat? Smoking.
by James Greer
Missoula Independent 18(27), July 5-12, 2007

When I came out of the closet, the foremost concern I heard from each family member was worry over how much harder my life would be as a gay man. After all, it’s still legal in the state of Montana to be fired from my job, evicted from my home and denied more than 1,000 rights granted to legally wedded partners­simply because I’m homosexual.

We’ve come a long way since the rioting drag queens of Stonewall made the first foray of the gay civil rights movement, or Barbara Gittings took to the pickets demanding homosexuals be viewed as societal equals. Civil rights struggles are never easy, and it takes fierce optimism to face the rabid intolerance spewed by talking heads from the right.
[] Yet many of my concerned family members felt the most severe threat to my well-being was not civil inequality but HIV. Much has changed since what medical professionals once referred to as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency first appeared in San Francisco and New York, when testing was not an option and my gay brethren attempted to outrun the symptoms that signaled a painful, imminent and isolated death. Today we can diagnose the virus using a simple, bloodless test in 20 minutes. Regular testing ensures that antiretroviral medications can be prescribed early in the infection, adding decades to the lives of those who test positive. That’s good news for people who get tested, but more than half of all new cases come from the 25 percent of the population who don’t know their status, leading to annual infection rates holding steady at around 40,000 nationally for far too long.

The Montana Gay Men’s Task Force on HIV and AIDS completes statewide surveys of gay and bisexual men’s health, compiling data on mental, physical and sexual health, and many of the latest results are alarming. The numbers show how, in the shadow of a pandemic, smaller­yet still devastating­scourges have seen none of the spotlight.

The 2006 survey, the only one of its kind in Montana, involved 250 gay and bisexual men between 18 and 65 and was administered in a variety of settings, including the Montana Pride Celebration, Task Force retreats, social events, and one-on-one outreach.

Sixty percent of gay men between the ages of 18 and 34 have experienced depression in the last year, and almost three-quarters have felt feelings of isolation. Roughly one in two men between 35 and 65 experienced depression in the last year. Among all age groups, one in 25 experienced domestic violence.

One in four gay men has tried methamphetamine; 75 percent of those were 34 or younger. This is compared to various state and federal surveys that place methamphetamine use at between three and eight percent of the general population. Meth abuse is statistically higher overall in the gay community, as it has strong ties to the party and club scenes throughout the West.

And, perhaps not so surprising in a community facing high rates of depression, isolation and drug use, mistrust of municipal health departments has risen 10 percent since 2001. Perhaps as a testament to community HIV-testing organizations like the Task Force, Missoula AIDS Council and Partnership Health Center, 90 percent of those indicating mistrust of health departments are still testing regularly.

Shocking rates of tobacco abuse among gay men have prompted discussion of a specific intervention directed at the LGBTIQ community. Nationwide, health centers have developed programs targeting the gay community’s high smoking rates. The Task Force survey showed 60 percent of 18- to 34-year-old gay or bisexual men smoked tobacco, compared to other surveys which show that Montana’s general population smoking rates hover around 20 percent. We also see higher rates of tobacco use within the HIV-positive community, increasing the risk for heart disease, certain cancers and opportunistic infections by as much as five-fold.

The tobacco industry is notorious for its unabashed advertising to the gay community, an ironic market considering the number of dollars spent by industry execs on conservative, anti-gay politicians. In the mid-’90s, ad companies targeted gay ghettos, rebellious generation X-ers and the homeless of San Francisco, using what they called Project SCUM, or Project Subculture Urban Marketing. The gay community’s response to Big Tobacco began on the West coast in the ’90s, and has since spread throughout the country­often taking on an angry, frustrated tone. Ads produced by organizations such as the American Legacy Foundation focus their audiences on in-your-face statistics, including the fact that tobacco causes more deaths in the LGBTIQ community than AIDS, drugs, breast cancer and bashings combined. ...

Los Angeles County Responds to Alarming LGBT Smoking Rates with Innovative New 'Last Drag' Campaign
Business Wire, 2005-10-27

Responding to disproportionately high smoking rates among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals, Los Angeles County's Tobacco Control and Prevention Project announced today the launch of a pioneering campaign to promote tobacco cessation to the LGBT community. The campaign consists of smoking cessation workshops specifically developed for LGBT individuals, advertising, a Web site and the first-ever gay anti-smoking street team.

LGBTs twice as likely to smoke, study says
Bay Area Reporter, Issue: Vol. 35 / No. 38 / 22 September 2005

In a recent statistical analysis by the California Department of Health Services, a startling trend was revealed. LGBT people are two times more likely to smoke than the overall population of California. The smoking prevalence in the queer community was over 30 percent, according to the CDHS results of a population-based study. The highest smoking rates were among LGBT youth ages 18 to 24 at 44 percent, which is two and a half times the overall smoking rate for this age group.

Bob Gordon with the California LGBT Educational Partnership talks about tobacco industry targeting of LGBTs.

Calif. Gays Smoke At Double State Average, 2005-09-06

A new study by the California Department of Health Services shows that more than 30 percent of the state's gay community smokes. The figure is double the state average of 15.4 percent.

The findings are part of the first-ever population-specific study conducted on smoking and indicates that even though smoking in general is declining, it is not doing so among gays and lesbians.

The new data also show that lesbians and bi women smoked almost triple (32.5 percent) that of general population women (11.9 percent). Gay and bi men smoked at 27.4 percent, significantly more than California men in general at 19.1 percent.


LGBT Community and Tobacco: Up in Smoke

Windy City Times, 2005-08-03

Considering that tobacco use within the LGBT community is reported to be significantly higher than the general population, the fact that tobacco kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murder and illegal drugs combined is causing concern in the community.

Join CiggyButtz

Minorities File for Tobacco Money: LGBT groups join with people of color in seeking tobacco funds for anti-smoking initiatives
Gay City News, 2005-07-28

Dr. Scout is a health care consultant working with minority groups who are seeking part of the nation's huge tobacco settlement.

Members of various minority groups, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, have filed a friend of the court brief demanding that the settlement in the Department of Justice lawsuit against the tobacco industry provide over $50 million to remedy the ill health effects caused by smoking in minority populations...

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