American Lung Assn. releases LGBT tobacco use report

Findings stress need for more gay-targeted local cessation efforts


WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Released June 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 LGBT community and the need for additional gay-specific research.

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.

Key facts regarding this disparity include the following:

- Gay, bisexual and transgender men are over two times more likely to smoke than heterosexual men.

- Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are one and a half to two times more likely to smoke than heterosexual women.

- Bisexual boys and girls have some of the highest smoking rates when compared with both their heterosexual and homosexual peers.

"The American Lung Association issued Smoking Out a Deadly Threat to raise awareness of this health disparity and address the need for additional research specific to the LGBT community and tobacco use," explained ALA President and CEO Charles D. Connor. "Like other groups disproportionately affected by tobacco use, including African Americans and Native Americans, the LGBT population needs targeted efforts to reduce smoking rates, which will ultimately save lives."

The ALA report presents a compilation of research that examines possible contributing factors to the LGBT smoking rate, including stress and discrimination related to homophobia, the tobacco industry's targeted marketing to LGBT consumers and lack of access to culturally appropriate tobacco treatment programs.

"The Lung Association is committed to preventing tobacco use and reducing smoking rates among the LGBT community," Connor continued. "Understanding and eliminating this disparity will take a concerted group effort from the healthcare industry, governments, LGBT advocacy organizations and individuals."

The ALA is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and all state departments of health to include sexual orientation and gender identity questions in public health surveys. In addition, state and local tobacco control programs should work to ensure prevention and cessation programs, materials and staff are culturally competent and inclusive of the LGBT community. LGBT advocacy organizations should advocate for policies to promote tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and identify alternative funding sources to tobacco industry sponsorship.

This report is the ALA's second in a series taking an in-depth look at lung health disparities in specific populations.

The American Lung Association has several programs that help tens of thousands of smokers take the big step of quitting each year. Freedom From Smoking provides a personalized step-by-step quit plan and is offered online http://www.ffsonline.org, or as a group clinic to help smokers work through the problems and process of quitting. The Lung HelpLine, 1-800-LUNG-USA, provides smoking cessation counseling and one-on-one support from registered nurses and respiratory therapists. Smoking cessation support, lung cancer treatment information and additional resources are available at http://www.LungUSA.org.

Affirmations community center in Ferndale also provides local help for LGBT smokers. Health and Human Services Coordinator London Bell can assist with obtaining smoking cessation kits, counseling and support. To find out more, call 248-398-7105 or visit http://www.goaffirmations.org.

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