by Nancy Ford
Among many LGBT youth, apparently it’s still cool to light up. A new report, “Coming Out about Smoking: Tobacco Use in the LGBTQ Young Adult Community,” released in August by the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, explores the reasons why sexual minority youth smoke and suggests strategies for prevention
Utilizing information from focus groups and a survey of nearly 1,000 sexual minority youth, the survey was written to address the gaps in research on tobacco use in the LGBTQ community.
“Current data suggest that sexual minority youth are more likely to smoke than the general youth population, and this report examines why. There is plenty of opportunity for intervention; we need to encourage tobacco prevention programs designed and driven by and for youth, which both emphasize the health risks of smoking and relate to the major stressors that sexual minority youth face each day,” said Gregory Varnum, executive director of National Youth Advocacy Coalition.
The report finds that sexual minority youth are likely to smoke due to unique stressors such as discrimination and lack of family acceptance, that many sexual minority youth see smoking as an important social activity, that most sexual minority youth prefer to date nonsmokers, and that sexual minority youth smokers tend not to smoke heavily, with many wanting to quit.
In order to reduce smoking rates, the report recommends intervention programs designed by youth and for youth, early outreach to youth smokers, and an emphasis on the health risks of smoking.