The LGBT Smoke-Free Project

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the LGBT community continues to smoke more than the U.S. general population. The results showed 32.8 percent of LGBT people nationally smoke cigarettes, compared to 19.5 percent for the general population.

“Unfortunately, these findings confirm the bad news that LGBT people smoke cigarettes at rates 68 percent higher than the general population and that our overall tobacco use is 50 percent higher,” comments Dr. Scout, director of The Network for LGBT Health Equity.

Scout added: “It’s clearer than ever that tobacco use is one of the largest single health burdens on the LGBT community.”

Here in New York City, the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City has worked with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center (the Center) for the past three years to raise awareness around secondhand smoke and tobacco marketing targeting youth.  Since the early 90s, the Center has been a true champion working to encourage adult smokers to quit through their LGBT SmokeFree Project.  The Coalition has partnered with the Center to raise awareness not only around the health implications of smoking, but how youth, particularly, LGBT youth, are targeted by tobacco companies to be their next generation of “replacement smokers.”

A recent event at the Center, the Smoke-Free Smoke-Out BBQ, brought together LGBT youth, families and allies for a day of fun educational activities.  LGBT Students from CUNY and Pratt Institute also attended the Smoke-Out BBQ where the Smoke-Free Project premiered its new film, “Big Tobacco Wants YOU(TH)!!!”, created by the Center’s Youth Organizers Internship Program (YO!).

T-shirts and buttons also help to spread the word:

One of the Smoke-Free interns wrote in a recent blog post for The Center: “Since becoming an intern with the SmokeFree Project, I have realized how much my family, friends and I are all affected by smoking advertisements, and I know that my work as an advocate will continue well beyond the internship. It is my goal to make sure that ALL youth become aware of this issue and that we continue to encourage young people to live a healthy, smoke-free life.”

Thank you to the The Center, LGBT Smoke-Free Project, and Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services) for their dedication and hard work.

The NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City is also working with the American Cancer Society and the NYC Department of Health & Human Hygiene on an initiative to address the high smoking rates among the LGBT community in NYC. Please let us know if your organization wants to join us in this initiative.

By working closely with LGBT organizations throughout the five boroughs, we hope to bring down smoking rates within the community and prevent LGBT youth from starting to light up.