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Michael G. Bare, MPH
Program Coordinator
National LGBT Cancer Network

We often quote numbers of LGBT individuals who smoke, or use tobacco. These numbers come from studies and surveys; one survey in particular the National Adult Tobacco Survey (NATS) asks individuals across types of tobacco products from smokeless tobacco (like snus or chewing tobacco), electronic cigarettes, waterpipes or hookah use, Cigars, cigarillos and filtered little cigars, and “any combustible tobacco product (this includes cigarettes). From these findings, and demographic information taken during the survey, we can see by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, region, education and income, how many people are smoking and what they are smoking.


So how many LGBT people smoke? According to King, Dube and Tynan’s (2012) analysis of the 2009-2010 NATS reports LGBT people smoked at 52% higher rate than the general population when asked if they use “Any Tobacco” products. The 2012-2013 NATS found that LGBT people smoked at a 50% higher rate than the general population (Igaku, King, Husten, et al, 2014). It is a good start that the both groups decreased tobacco use, but LGBT people still smoke at twice the rate of the general population (see chart for details).

2009-2010 NATS 2012-2013 NATS
General Population 25.30% 20.50%
LGBT People 38.50% 30.80%
% Difference between LGBT and General Population 52% higher 50% higher

Sidenotes:In 2009-2010 and 2012-2013, consecutively, 16.6% and 24% of people who did not report their sexuality reported “any tobacco use;” it is curious why a 44% increase of individuals chose not to report their sexuality. A change in the way the question was asked between the two surveys is our best guess for this discrepancy.

Also, although many places the NATS report is reported as LGB, we’re reporting it as LGBT because even though questions about transgender status was asked in a poor way. While we will work at getting better measures used to describe transgender status and populations, we do not want to throw away this data at this point.



King, BA, Dube, SR & Tynan, MA. Brian A. (2012) Current Tobacco Use Among Adults in the United States: Findings From the National Adult Tobacco Survey. American Journal of Public Health: 102(11), e93-e100. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301002

Agaku, IT, King, BA, Husten CG, Bunnell, R, Ambrose, BK, Hu, SS,…Ray, HR. (2014). Tobacco Product Use Among Adults — United States, 2012–2013. MMWR: 63(25);542-547. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6325a3.htm

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