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Smokers more prevalent in LGBT community

By |2018-01-16T01:11:16-05:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Thirty-two percent of the LGBT community in Michigan smokes, more than the percentage of the general state population, according to a recent survey conducted by Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Ferndale.
Affirmations Health Services Coordinator Knoll Larkin wasn’t surprised.
“There are several factors which appear to contribute to increased rates of smoking among LGBT including higher stress levels, bars’ role as a primary social outlet, increased incidence of substance use, reduced access to health care and targeted marketing efforts by the tobacco industry,” Larkin said.
Larkin mentions that, although 68 percent of the community doesn’t smoke, there are common misconceptions about smokers in the LGBT community, including tobacco use to promote masculinity and the support of tobacco use in the LGBT community because the industry’s gay-friendliness.
“With all the targeted marketing by tobacco companies, including tobacco companies sponsoring LGBT events and organizations, it is easy to see how tobacco use has come to be equated with just being part of the LGBT community,” he said.
Despite the tobacco industry’s promotional tactics, 73 percent of LGBT people would vote for a law that would create a smoke-free environment in all Michigan workplaces, according to Affirmations’ research.
“Both LGBT smokers and non-smokers seemed to agree that policy regarding smoke-free environments is an important issue requiring consideration,” Larkin said.
LGBT bar and restaurant owners also expressed interest in going smoke-free, but plan to wait for a state law, Larkin said. Sixty-four percent of them support a law creating a smoke-free environment in Michigan work places.
“Affirmations sought to reduce gaps in data among LGBT people, a disparately affected population with regards to tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke,” Larkin said.
Larkin noted that a lack of research documenting tobacco use among LGBT people prompted Deirdre Shires, the former health services coordinator, to conduct the research.
“Studies that have been done indicate that LGBT individuals smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts do,” Larkin said. “It’s clear that surveillance on a local level is necessary to full assess the prevalence and impact of tobacco use among LGBT folks in Michigan.”
The research will be used to better serve LGBT individuals, he said.
“We will also present the survey results as feedback to the LGBT community as well as local LGBT businesses,” Larkin said. “We hope the dissemination of survey results will educate employers about tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.