July 6, 2010 - A growing body of evidence indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals are considerably more likely to use tobacco than the general population, with some studies estimating smoking rates as much as double the national average. Although it's difficult to verify, it's estimated that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals represent roughly 3 percent of the total population of the United States.
New report from the American Lung Assocaition (ALA): Smoking Out a Deadly Threat Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community, Disparities in Lung Health Series..
Researchers combed through more than 40 separate analyses to determine that LGBT people are more likely to use tobacco. Specifically, gay men are nearly two and a half times more likely to develop a smoking habit than straight men. Lesbians are twice as likely compared to straight women, and people who are bisexual appear to have the highest risk of all.
To be clear, no one within the LGBT community is more prone to smoking because they're gay. The elevated risks are the result of common factors that are magnified within the LGBT community, namely stress and aggressive marketing techniques by tobacco companies.
The tobacco industry has been a prevalent advertiser in the LGBT community for decades, with a heavy presence in bars, clubs, and newspapers that cater to that population. While tobacco advertisements have nearly disappeared from most mainstream publications, the American Lung Association says that's not the case for LGBT newspapers and magazines. They also argue that direct marketing of tobacco products seems to happen more frequently within LGBT bars and clubs
Enough information exists already to show that LGBT people should be treated as a priority population for tobacco control, similar to those racial and ethnic groups disproportionately affected by smoking. Specific interventions targeted to LGBT people are needed in order to help reduce the impact of tobacco use in this population.
Reference: Report: Smoking rate within LGBT community nearly double general population, the Chart - CNN Health, 7/2/2010.