American Lung Association: LGBT Smoking Report


by Emilia Dunham

Network Program Associate


On June 28th, I was privileged to participate in a webinar on the American Lung Association’s LGBT Smoking Report. Since data is dramatically lacking on LGBT smoking, this national survey was extremely important, so we can expect this research will have lasing implications! Below are some major points from the webinar:

Key findings:

  • Gay men 2-2.5x as straight men, women up to 2x
  • Bisexuals higher than both gay men and women
  • Lesbian and bisexual girls 9x higher than heterosexual girls
  • Still limited data on transgender individuals

Why is this important?

  • Most National and state surveys don’t ask for LGBT demographics
  • LGBT are more prone to smoke for a variety of reasons:
    • Stress related to homophobia/stigma
    • Lacking legal protections
    • Social pressure/bonding means smoking is normal in LGBT community
    • LGBT smoking ignored by the greater LGBT community
    • Targeting by tobacco industry
    • General tobacco cessation programs are not tailored to LGBT population
    • LGBT people are a perfect sample of the American population, stretching across all ethnicities, socio-economic statuses, ages, etc.

Taking Action: What’s needed and what can you do to help?

  • Improve data collection and reporting on tobacco use in the LGBT community
  • Direct LGBT funding to tobacco cessation
  • Disseminate results of this and similar surveys to media organizations, anti-tobacco and LGBT groups
  • Collaborate with other groups experiencing tobacco disparity rates; explore racial/ethnic disparity intersection
  • Need for cultural competency

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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