by Emilia Dunham
Program Associate, Reporting on the 1st ever LGBT Health Summit in Puerto Rico
I had the joy of attending the history-making LGBT Health Summit in Puerto Rico. There were some fascinating reports and presentations with useful resources and information with fabulous panelists, presenters and participants. There was a huge emphasis on tobacco in the community throughout the conference and one of the workshops below directly addresses tobacco.
Dr. Elba Días Toro presented on cancer research and tobacco use on her survey of 1,500 participants in PR. This survey received advice of the Network in its development. Dr. Toro and her team looked for instruments that were used in the United States for the LGBT community to improve survey. The survey was also available at this Summit for participants to take.
So far the results are showing that 40% LGBT smoke regularly which is significant because only 16% of U.S. population smokes. Interestingly, LGBT Puerto Rican smokers are more interested in quitting than general population of smokers. However, it seems there are unique obstacles to quitting that participants expressed such as fear of quitting, use of tobacco for stress and lack of resources. Menthol use is a widely used among LGBT people in PR too which seems to disproportionately affect communities of color.
It was also found that participants wanted their doctors to be more culturally competent and understand needs. Many participants didn’t care whether the tobacco industry targeted their communities, but they did think there should be more smoke-free spaces and quitlines. Some of the priorities of the LGBT community were factors related to tobacco such as Asthma, insomnia and anxiety.
This survey is so vital as it shows the specific needs of the PR LGBT community which is already showing their unique but similar situations and needs.