By Juan Carlos Vega, LGBT HealthLink Policy Director
It is a warm morning in Portland, Maine. Over 100 tobacco control advocates from all over the state are participating in the two-day 2015 Maine Tobacco Treatment Conference. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, presenters will be discussing opportunities created to help smokers quit, treatment for pregnant women smokers, strategies to help people quit, e-cigarette trends among many other relevant tobacco control, treatment, and prevention issues.
In yesterday’s opening session, Kristen McAuley, Program Director within the Division of Population Health, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services discussed Maine’s Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program successes in the last decade. Ms. McAuley announced that LGBTQ communities are currently recognized as a population in need of targeted tobacco control prevention strategies. Maine has been very successful in reducing youth prevalence, but how about LGBT youth in Maine? Later this afternoon, I will be presenting on the realities pertaining to LGBT tobacco use and how to create safe environments to help our communities quit smoking. This will allow participants to learn LGBT competency strategies and contribute to reduce the state’s health disparities.