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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Higher Discount Cigarettes Use

Despite a wealth of knowledge about the dangers of smoking, the LGBT community is puffing away at a higher rate than other segments of the American society.

Despite vigorous campaigns against tobacco use, smoking discount cigarettes continues to appeal to youths and the cycle of addiction, illness and death continues in the U.S.

The American Lung Association (ALA) estimates that more than 392,000 Americans die annually from tobacco-caused disease and that another 50,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke discount cigarettes. Just how many LGBT people die of tobacco-caused disease is not known.

The ALA recently released its latest health disparity report, Smoking Disocunt Cigarettes Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the LGBT Community, which examines the trend of higher tobacco use among the LGBT community.

The report speculates that lack of data-collection information on sexual orientation and gender identity in most state and national health surveys means trends within the LGBT community can go unnoticed.

Yet, the ALA's current data indicates that the LGBT population smokes discount cigarettes at a higher rate than their heterosexual peers. Key facts regarding this disparity include:

• Gay, bisexual and transgender men are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke discount cigarettes than heterosexual men;

• Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to smoke discount cigarettes than heterosexual women;

• Bisexual boys and girls have some of the highest smoking discount cigarettes rates when compared with both their heterosexual and homosexual peers.

Due to lack of data in health surveys, the ALA was only able to break down smoking discount cigarettes prevalence in adults across six states, three of which lumped gays and lesbians into one category, and bisexuals into another.

One of those states was California, where it is estimated that 30.9 percent of bisexual women and 22.3 percent of lesbians smoke discount cigarettes, in comparison to 11.5 percent of straight women. Men smoked discount cigarettes at higher rates almost across the board; 29.5 percent of bisexual men and 26.5 admitted to smoking discount cigarettes compared to 19 percent of straight men.

"The American Lung Association issued [the report] 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, ALA president and CEO.

"Like other groups disproportionately affected by tobacco use, including African-Americans and Native Americans," Connor said. "The LGBT population needs targeted efforts to reduce smoking discount cigarettes rates, which will ultimately save lives."

The ALA's compilation of research found a number of contributing factors to the LGBT smoking discount cigarettes rate disparity including:

# Stress and discrimination related to homophobia;

# The tobacco industry's targeted marketing to LGBT customers;

# Lack of access to culturally appropriate tobacco treatment programs;

The report notes that depression, social influence and cultural factors all contribute to smoking discount cigarettes prevalence in all population groups. However, the social environment in which LGBT individuals come out to themselves, their families and the community can have a significant impact on their health and well-being.

Although social acceptance has been slowly improving, there is still a lot of stigma associated with being in a sexual minority.

"I think tobacco products are heavily promoted in the bar/club scene. The same is true in the straight community but I think the difference is more people in the LGBT community rely on the bar/club scene to be social," said Zeb, a 27-year-old man and survey participant from Washington, D.C.

The report attributes Zeb's remarks about the bar cultural scene to the fact that historically bars and clubs have been among the few safe spots for LGBT people. Young people especially feel the need to be socially accepted by smoking discount cigarettes in a group.

Though many states, California included, are taking steps to ban smoking discount cigarettes from indoor facilities, that is exactly what local San Diegan Paul Walker dislikes the most about smoking discount cigarettes bans.

"I don't like the fact that you can NOT smoke discount cigarettes in bars anymore," Walker said. "Smoking discount cigarettes and drinking in a bar was a good thing because it put two good vices together. When I could smoke discount cigarettes in a bar, I smoked discount cigarettes less when I was walking around outside."

Walker, 36, said he has been smoking discount cigarettes for 21 years. He smokes discount cigarettes five to six discount cigarettes a day. And, like many smokers, he has trouble quitting.

"I have tried to quit like 12 times within the 20-plus years I have been smoking discount cigarettes," Walker said. "The last time I tried to quit, I was still enlisted in the Navy, and my Chief Petty Officer knew that I was trying to quit and saw that I was getting aggravated too often. So one day he bought me a pack of discount cigarettes and said 'Smoke discount cigarettes before you kill someone.' "

LGBT people and tobacco advertising

The report claims the tobacco industry was one of the first to develop marketing materials specifically targeting the LGBT community, and has over time reaped the financial benefits of paying attention to a group of people largely ignored by mainstream advertisers.

The ALA points to the most infamous example: Project SCUM.

SCUM stands for "subculture urban marketing" and in the mid-1990s the campaign was specifically aimed at gay men in San Francisco's Castro District and homeless people in the Tenderloin.

Documents related to Project SCUM were released during the state of California's litigation with the tobacco industry and through them, it became very clear the degree to which the tobacco industry has held its LGBT customers in contempt.

Susan, a 52-year-old survey participant from San Francisco, recalled the influence of discount cigarette advertising in her life.

"They advertise for discount cigarettes the same way they advertise for alcohol, and really make it look alluring," Susan said. "And back in my 20s, those things worked! Even though everything about that community was frowned upon, they had a way of grabbing that community with their ads. The whole idea of being 'the cool dyke in the bars' really impacted me, because, of course, I wanted to be cool."

"There are people making millions of dollars, hoping I would continue to smoke discount cigarettes whether it would kill me or not, and I find that horrific. It's just criminal," she said.

Tobacco advertising had been widespread in publications aimed at LGBT audiences and remains common today.

Accessible programs for LGBT people

With the release of the report, the ALA 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. They also want state and local tobacco control programs to ensure prevention and cessation programs, materials and staff are culturally competent and inclusive of the LGBT community.

Additionally, the ALA encourages LGBT advocacy organizations to advocate for policies to promote tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and identify alternative funding sources to tobacco industry sponsorship.

Many organizations nationwide offer help through hotlines or online services, as well as local and state programs working directly with smokers to make a difference. If you have noticed any of the following symptoms, it is time you consider quitting.

What is in discount cigarette smoke?

The main ingredient is nicotine, which is a colorless, poisonous substance also used to kill insects; and it is highly addictive.

Another ingredient is tar, the harmful blackish residue from discount cigarettes smoke. In total, there are over 4,000 toxins in discount cigarettes.

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