Since November 19th is the Great American Smokeout, and this month is also National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it would be appropriate to address the prevalence of smoking in our community and think more about ways to empower ourselves in our efforts to quit.
Did you know that...
Smoking related-diseases kill one in 10 adults globally, or cause four million deaths. By 2030, if current trends continue, smoking will kill one in six people.
The American Cancer Society estimates that over 30,000 LGBT people die each year of tobacco related diseases.
In a recent national study on adolescent health, 45% of females and 35% of males who reported same-sex attraction or behavior smoked; compared to only 29% for the rest of the youth.
LGBT people show some of the highest smoking prevalence rates of all disproportionably affected populations.
Clearly, our community is disproportionately affected by tobacco use: we're more likely to smoke than non-LGBT people by 40%-70%! Our community is also specifically targeted by tobacco companies, who offer financial support to LGBT festivals, bars, media and local organizations where many other funders avoid our community and our issues altogether. This makes it difficult for LGBT organizations that receive this kind of funding to speak out against tobacco use in our community, or to create or support anti-smoking and smoking cessation campaigns. This trickles down of course into the messages that we're receiving (or not) about smoking as LGBT individuals, and how our community is specifically affected by this phenomenon, which many people don't realize. Also, if we're disproportionately affected by smoking, and we know that smoking causes all kinds of other health concerns, it isn't hard to imagine that we may be at increased risk for some of those as well - such as various kinds of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The Great American Smokeout is a day that is set aside as an opportunity for folks to really think about quitting, or to help and support those around us who are trying. The statistics above were borrowed from the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network, and you can visit their website to learn more.
Do you smoke? Have you ever thought about quitting? What difficulties have you encountered in your efforts to quit? How do you feel about the fact that our community is specifically targeted by tobacco companies?