HRC Blog

LGBT Smoking Rates Continue High, But New Resources Are Available

Chairs; LGBT smoking ratesPost submitted by Shane Snowdon, former HRC Director, Health & Aging Program

A new survey of West Virginians confirms that LGBT people smoke much more than Americans in general. Just–released research conducted jointly by the West Virginia Department of Public Health and the West Virginia University School of Public Health found an overall smoking rate in the state of 23%. Among LGBT West Virginians, however, the smoking rate was almost 41%.

But there was good news for LGBT people in the West Virginia study. LGBT health researchers hailed the fact that it asked respondents both their sexual orientation and their gender identity, still a rarity in government health surveys. If LGBT respondents cannot self-identify on health surveys, LGBT health concerns cannot be meaningfully tracked.

The West Virginia smoking data tracks national LGBT smoking figures. For example, a new publication on LGBT smoking from the American Legacy Foundation notes that, in 2010, 19.3% of the U.S. general population smoked cigarettes, while an analysis of the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey found that 32.8% of LGBT people smoke. Higher LGBT smoking rates are gender-skewed: lesbians and bsexual women are up to two times more likely to smoke than heterosexual women.

The Legacy report and a powerful new LGBT anti-smoking video were unveiled at an event held at and co-sponsored by HRC in December 2012. A lively panel, which I moderated, candidly discussed a broad range of LGBT smoking concerns with a large in-person and web audience. A video of panelists Riana Buford, Aisha Moodie-Mills, Scout and Gloria Scout can be viewed here.

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