Today was the 36th Great American Smokeout, a day chosen by the American Cancer Society to encourage people to stop smoking.
In a very exciting move, President Obama addressed the nation in a short video, in which he highlighted a few key stats, including:
– 46 Million Americans are smokers
– Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable, early deaths in the US
(He also emphasized the difficulty of quitting and he knows from experience… the story is that when he asked Michelle if he could run for President, she said “if you quite smoking”!)
These statistics are staggering, but the figures about smoking in the LGBT Community are…what’s more shocking than staggering? Horrendous? Awful? completely horrifying? Anyways, here are a few facts to chew on:
– LGBT people are 35 to almost 200% more likely to smoke than non-LGBT people
– 29% of youth smoke, but the numbers for LGBT adolescents are around 40%
– Lesbians are more likely to smoke (56%) than heterosexual women (42%) and the smoking rate among lesbians increases with age, while the rate among other groups declines with age.
-American Cancer Society estimates that over 30,000 LGBT people die each
year of tobacco-related diseases
The craziest thing to me is that, until very recently, I didn’t know any of this! I stopped to think about my own group of queer friends and 4 out of 5 of us smoke. I am frequently the one left in the kitchen to watch the food on the stove while everyone else goes outside for a smoke break. And it’s shocking to me that these smart, savvy queers don’t KNOW about these disparities in their community.
This information is not common knowledge, but it’s the kind of stuff that EVERYONE should know.
So to honor this 36th Great American Smokeout, even if you’re not a smoker, or if today isn’t the day you quit smoking, read these statistics. Memorize one. Really think about it. Because who knows? It may come up in double jeopardy. Or, it may save your life.