The American Lung Association has just released a report highlighting the higher tobacco risk in the LGBT community.
Historically, there has not been any tobacco research that focused specifically on the LGBT community, so this report aims to bring attention to the higher rate of risk.
“Since the smoking rate within the LGBT community is roughly double that of the general population, more members of the LGBT community are at greatly increased risk of these deadly diseases, as well as other tobacco-related health threats such as heart attacks and strokes,” said Mary H. Partridge, Chair of the Board at The American Lung Association.
She continued, “Tobacco’s toll on this underserved community is far too great, and with this report, the American Lung Association calls for decisive action to better understand the root causes and find effective solutions to this deadly threat to the LGBT community.”
The risk report says that LGBT youth and young adults are specifically at risk, as they frequent bars and clubs to socialize — places that are usually coupled with tobacco products.
LGBT youth are also exposed to especial stress and stigma not shared by their heterosexual peers, and therefore rely on stress-relief outlets such as cigarettes and alcohol, according to the report.
“Another study that examined the attitudes of LGBT youth found that stress was by far the most frequently named cause of smoking, followed by fitting in and peer pressure,” reads the Risk Report.
Stressors for LGBT youth include homelessness, coming out at an early age, rejection by family and peers, lack of support, discrimination, anxiety and homophobia.
Patterns of LGBT-specific tobacco advertising campaigns have also been pointed out in the report.
“The tobacco industry definitely targets the LGBT community,” Susan, a research contributor, told the American Lung Society. “They advertise for cigarettes the same way they advertise for alcohol, and really make it look alluring. Even though everything about that community was frowned upon, they had a way of grabbing that community with their ads.”
The American Lung Association is attempting to address these higher risk rates with a campaign titled “The Last Drag,” offered in several Californian cities, provides a “safe space for LGBT smokers to go through the quitting process in a supportive, group environment,” according to the report.
“The community and its allies need to advocate for funding to establish culturally-specific programs,” The Last Drag facilitator Gloria Soliz said. “Civil rights and health are both important in our community.”
The entire report, as well as quitting resources, can be found here.