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June: National LGBT Pride Month


June 1st marked the beginning of National LGBT Pride Month. As hundreds of events around the country this month show their support and celebrate LGBT rights, it’s important to recognize one of the LGBT community’s largest health problems: tobacco.

Among the many communities that make up the American population, one – LGBT – continues to smoke at significantly higher rates than the rest of the country. The 2015 Ohio Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that 35.1 percent of LGBT adults smoked cigarettes compared to 21 percent of non-LGBT adults. The reasons why the LGBT community uses tobacco varies from person to person, but it’s often generalized into the following categories:

  • Target of marketing campaigns by the tobacco industry. The LGBT community has been a target of Big Tobacco’s advertising campaigns. Young people are particularly vulnerable; 90 percent of all smokers begin in their teens, and LGBT people may start smoking even earlier. In addition to traditional media advertising, tobacco marketers also sponsor LGBT social events, holiday celebrations, street festivals, and other gatherings. These efforts are often designed to make tobacco companies appear as friends and allies of the LGBT community.
  • To reduce stress resulting from social stigma, discrimination, and isolation from family members, co-workers, and peers. This is sometimes referred to as “minority stress.” For some LGBT people, smoking serves as a both stress reliever and as a way to “fit in” with peers.
  • Lack of access to health care. Many have difficulty accessing care where a provider can talk to them about smoking and counsel them on ways to stop.

The Ohio Department of Health will be attending the 2017 Columbus Pride Festival, June 16-17. Stop by our booth for more information on tobacco prevention and cessation. We will have several free LGBT-specific tobacco brochures and fun giveaway items for attendees to take home.

If someone you know smokes and wants to quit, encourage them to call the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or use the free online tobacco cessation tools at QuitLogix ( To learn more about the ODH Tobacco Program, visit our website or like us on Facebook.

Last Updated: 6/1/2017