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Gay Community Sees Spike In Tobacco Use

WASHINGTON  -- 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. Key facts regarding this disparity include the following:

  • Gay, bisexual and transgender men are 2.0 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke than heterosexual men.
  • Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are 1.5 to 2.0 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: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community to raise awareness of this health disparity and address the need for additional research specific to the LGBT community and tobacco use," said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO.  "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 Lung Association's 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 American Lung Association is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and all state Departments of Health to include sexual orientation and gender identity questions in public health surveys.  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.

The Smoking Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community report is the American Lung Association's second report in a series taking an in-depth look at lung health disparities in specific populations.  This report builds on the American Lung Association's long-standing commitment to saving lives and improving lung health for all Americans. For a compendium of information about lung disease in various populations, see the recently released State of Lung Disease in Diverse Communities: 2010 and Too Many Cases, Too Many Deaths: Lung Cancer in African Americans, available atwww.LungUSA.org.

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 (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 www.LungUSA.org.

About the American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungUSA.org.



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