LGBT Americans Come Out for Health this Week


Cheryl Heaton, Legacy

Cross-posted from our friend’s at Legacy for Health, Posted March 31st, 2011

As LGBT Americans come out for health during LGBT Health Awareness Week (March 28th – April 4th), I hope that they consider quitting smoking as one of the actions they tackle head on. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population smokes at a disproportionately high rate, and tobacco industry documents illustrate tobacco companies’ past efforts to target and exploit the LGB* market. In 1995, a tobacco company conducted a marketing plan called “Project SCUM” (Sub Culture Urban Marketing) targeting urban San Francisco populations, including gays.

Sadly, there is currently a 24-48 percent smoking prevalence among LGB adults, and smoking rates among LGB youth are estimated to be considerably higher (38%-59%) than those among adolescents in general (28%-35%). Whether this disparity is related to social stress or tobacco industry targeting the research is insufficient to understand why LGBT adults and youth smoke at higher rates.
For smokers who are committed to quitting this month, BecomeAnEX.org provides free comprehensive quit plans with tools and information. The website also serves as a convening point for smokers who want to collaborate on their successes and challenges as part of more than 350 customized support groups – including a variety of groups specifically for the LGBT Community:

* The limited studies available on this population do not include specific information on transgender individuals as a subgroup.

Learn more facts about the LGBT community and smoking.

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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