A new study from the Network for LGBT Health Equity shows that in a given year LGBT Americans spend 65 times more on cigarettes — an estimated $7.9 billion — than is spent on all LGBT advocacy combined. Nearly a third of all people who identify as LGBT smoke, rates 68 percent higher than the national average (19.5 percent). The Network believes this data proves that “smoking is the LGBT community’s biggest health concern.”
Numerous other studies have similarly found that not only are LGBT people more likely to smoke, but also less likely to quit. Three main factors contribute to these high rates of substance abuse: minority stress, a health care system that doesn’t recognize the unique needs of LGBT people, and targeted marketing by tobacco companies in LGBT publications.
In particular, tobacco companies have engaged in predatory marketing particularly when it comes to menthol-flavored cigarettes, the only kind of flavored cigarettes that the Food and Drug Administration did not ban in 2009. Both the LGBT community and communities of color face higher rates of smoking because of the intense marketing of menthol cigarettes. Though the Centers for Disease Control and numerous cities are developing smoke-cessation ads that target the LGBT community, the FDA has delayed taking action against menthol cigarettes, which it is still studying.
For more details about the new statistics, the Network has provided the citations for the above infographic.