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Who Smokes More Than Homos And Heteros?

Bisexuals. While LBGs are more likely to smoke than heteros (up to 2.5X more for men, and 2X for women), bisexuals outspace even lesbians; they’re 1.2X more likely to smoke than gay women, an already at-risk group, according to the American Lung Association’s new report “Smoking Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community” (PDF), a meta-study that analyzed the data of existing tobacco research. Sadly, nationwide data on transgender smokers is either nonexistent or too paltry to sufficiently measure. So what can be done? Involving LGBT leaders, perhaps?

The study concludes, “Despite the impact of tobacco use on the health and well-being of the LGBT community, many LGBT organizations do not seem to view tobacco control as a relevant issue. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco interviewed the leaders of 74 LGBT organizations between 2002 and 2004. These interviews were recorded, reviewed and coded to identify major themes. Only 24 percent of the leaders surveyed named tobacco use as a pressing LGBT community health concern. The rest indicated that other issues were more important or that their organizations should focus on issues that weren’t being addressed by the general population. Some of those interviewed said that drinking and smoking were central to many people’s coming out process. This is an unfortunate indication of the degree to which tobacco use has been normalized in a community beset by the challenges of functioning in a homophobic society.”

And why might some LGBT groups not be taking such a hard line approach to smoking? “While these leaders recognized that smoking is dangerous to one’s health, some noted that combating smoking could be bad for an organization’s bank account. Twenty-two percent of the organizations surveyed had accepted tobacco industry funding. The leaders of those groups recognized that these donations were ideologically difficult to defend, but felt they were necessary to keep their programs solvent and ‘continue their work in the community.’ Even those groups that had not accepted tobacco industry funding in the past said they might do so under the right circumstances, such as including a no-smoking message for youth as part of the funded activity.”

Then there’s the small matter of tolerance from groups like the Human Rights Campaign, which doesn’t accept cash from tobacco companies, but will give them props.

HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks the queer-friendliness of America’s companies, granted a 100% score to Reynolds Tobacco Co., a company whose profits are harming the very people HRC claims to advocate for. In defending the company’s score last year, HRC Foundation Workplace Project director Daryl Herrschaft said, “HRC does not accept sponsorship dollars from tobacco companies because we recognize the harmful effects that tobacco has done, and in some ways its disproportionate effect on our community … We don’t want to play a role in advocating smoking to our membership and to people who come to our events. The Corporate Equality Index addresses only corporate policies that impact LGBT people. It also addresses external actions of the company that directly and primarily impact LGBT equality. The Corporate Equality Index is only one measure of policies for LGBT employees and we strongly encourage everyone to seek out and pay attention to other indicators that are important to them.”

By:           Ryan Tedder
On:           Jun 30, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,
    • Toby

      Nicotine is an anti-depressive…and coming out can have some VERY scary moments, which can lead to depression.

      Not making excuses, just want to point out one of the driving forces behind smoking in the Gay community.

      Jun 30, 2010 at 6:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz

      Nicotine is NOT an anti-depressive! Where did you get that? It might for you, but there is nothing scientific about it being an anti depressant agent. But yes– I do think depression is a huge co-factor. BTW– just to get on the soapbox, because it is one that really matters to me: far more of the men reading this will die of COPD than of AIDS related illness. (statistically). Smoking is a HUGE problem.

      Jun 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ron

      I always assumed many gay men smoked due to an oral fixation.

      Jun 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Syl

      It’s a myriad of factors, and it varies from person to person, gender, culture, ethnicity, ecomic background, etc. It’s the stress factor. It could be, at least for some people, oral fixation. It’s seen as sexy, dangerous, subversive, rebellious, and anything culturally-tied to any of those adjectives is prime for adoption by
      lgbt culture. Plus, many queer people, because they still subconciously feel like they’re being “bad” even if they have rationally decides that big queer is
      neither a choice nor a sin, feel that “if they’re in for a dime, in for a dollar” and go all-out on all the shit they were told not to do as kids. And
      some people just don’t seem to care that they’re being self-destructive: random hookup, barebacking meth-users, I’m looking at you.

      All that still doesn’t change the fact that nicotine is a neurotoxin (it’s used as
      a pesticide, and you can fatally OD on it), or that th tobacco industry hasn’t done it’s darndest to cover up the risks associated with their products’ use. Use e-cigs or weed, people, it’s safer.

      Jun 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Toby


      Almost all stimulates have anti-depression properties AND almost all anti-depressives have stimulate properties.

      IE one of the “side effects” of Prozac/Wellbutrin is sleeplessness.

      This is not a new discovery, Doctors have since the 1990s been prescribing nicotine patches and gum to mildly depressed patients.

      So yes, nicotine IS an anti-depressive.

      Jun 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Baxter

      People have known for hundreds of years that smoking is bad for you. If you smoke, you are an idiot. That’s all.

      Jun 30, 2010 at 11:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Evan

      There is literally not one person left in this country who doesn’t know that smoking is terrible for you and causes cancer, all sorts of lung problems, bad breath, yellow teeth, and makes you and your clothes smell bad. Everybody knows that. People who still smoke, including LGB people, have decided to do so with full knowledge of the consequences.

      Why? Almost certainly stress – the other groups that still have disproportionately high rates of smoking are ones that experience high levels of stress, like the military, people with disabilities, and low-income people. Organizations that are working to reduce the stress experienced by LGBT people (by fighting discrimination) are working to reduce rates of smoking. They’re just going about it in a way that’s not completely duplicating the educational efforts of the smoking-specific organizations.

      Jul 1, 2010 at 2:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • KC

      Tobacco use also inflicts a much more insidious kind of damage to the queer community in the form of significant contributions to right-wing politicians and groups with, shall we say, socially conservative agendas. I once interned as a development assistant at an arts organization that considered applying for grant funding from the deceptively harmless-sounding Altria group. Being aware of the aforementioned link, I took it upon myself to compile a list of their donations to political campaigns during the previous year, all of which was a matter of public record. In short, what I discovered was terrifying from a liberal-progressive standpoint (the sheer amount of money given out was staggering), and so I easily convinced the organization to look elsewhere.

      Jul 1, 2010 at 6:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Argos

      I think one of the reasons that LGBT organizations don’t really make a point of addressing smoking/tobacco use is because there are already organizations out there that spread this information, and the age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc., of the people they are informing is utterly irrelevant to them. They are disseminating this information in an attempt to educate anyone that will listen. LGBT organizations are correctly prioritizing in this situation.

      Jul 1, 2010 at 10:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz

      @Toby: There is a difference between a stimulant and an anti-depressant. I know it might seem like the same, but trust me, from a health care provider’s perspective: a stimulated depressed person is not the same thing as a treated depressed person. In the old days, drugs like amphetamine and coke were tried for depression, and they failed very badly. Find me the physician who is using nicotine patches for mild depression. In fact, post his name here. That is off-label and highly illegal.

      Jul 1, 2010 at 10:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Toby


      I couldn’t even start naming psychiatrist, there’s just too many.

      I’ve worked in the Mental health profession for the last 22 years BELIEVE ME, there a reason why 70% of clinically depressed people smoke.

      There is a reason WHY when taking Wellbutrin (AKA Zyban, an anti-depressive), your desire to smoke completely dissipates.

      And let me remind you, just because you’re a health care worker, DOESN’T make you Psychiatrist.

      Oh and let me remind you, NICOTINE is NOT a controlled substance over the age of 18. MEANING if you want to inject it for whatever reason, you can.

      SO there’s no “That is off-label and highly illegal” argument. Maybe to a 14 year old, but not to a 30 year old.

      That’s like saying, if a Doctor told you to try red wine for your heart (so doctors do, so doctors don’t) IS NOT HIGHLY ILLEGAL, even though it’s “off label”.

      Jul 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz

      @Toby: Actually, the nicotine delivery devise has a specific use. People who take psych meds smoke for a lot of reasons including the reality that they reduce side effects. But again.. that doesn’t mean that they work as an anti depressant. Wellbutrin doesn’t totally ameliorate urges, but it does help some. (though there is the little problem of increased suicide risk). It is not illegal for your MD to tell you to drink wine for your heart, but it is illegal for your doctor to tell you to take asprin for depression.

      Jul 1, 2010 at 2:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • William

      Believe it or not, some people smoke because they actually enjoy it. I happen to be one of those idiots.

      Jul 2, 2010 at 2:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • N

      Literally everybody knows smoking’s bad for your health. There will always be some people who are going to smoke, deal with it.

      Jul 3, 2010 at 6:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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