Center for Reducing Health Disparities

Big Tobacco in the LGBT Community

LGBT flagRecent data shows that 1 in 5 people smoke in the U.S. In the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community smoking rates are almost 70% higher than the general population, killing almost 30,000 LGBT persons every year. But yet, why is it that smoking is still a fad? A research marketing company named Winston Stuart Associates conducted a focus group study in Sacramento and San Francisco which documented why LGBT participants believed smoking prevalence to be high within their communities.  Here’s some of their findings:

  • There is more stress, and cigarettes are a great stress reliever.
  • LGBT people have been told “no” for a long time and smoking is a legal form of rebellion.
  • LGBT people go out at bars/clubs, and cigarettes fit in with the bar scene.

There is a lot to be said about the type of stressors we each go through day to day, but we never really experience what it would be like to outrightly be denied certain rights. Therefore,stressors would be much higher in a population that undergoes this type of scrutiny and discrimination. The warmth and welcome that a cigarette would have to someone that is seeking acceptance, would be a readily available release of the pressures one would experience.

The marketing that has been used by tobacco companies, have been very smart and decisive in the LGBT community. For example there is one ad from American Spirit cigarettes that reads: “Free. to speak. to choose. to marry. to participate. to be. to disagree. to inhale. to believe. to love.  to live. it’s all good.”  This type of messaging pulls on emotions of the LGBT community to market their deadly product.

Learn more about tobacco control efforts in the LGBT community through our partner, the LGBT Network for Health Equity.

Big Tobacco is an industry that builds consumer loyalty through lies and deception.  Learn more about tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship at http://www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2013/brochure/en/index.html.

Join us in participating in the dialogue about World No Tobacco Day! Talk about it and Share it. Leave us a comment, Facebook us, or Tweet us @UNMCCRHD @MOTACOmaha using hashtag: #WNTD2013!

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