By Becky Wright, MPH, Tobacco Prevention Program Specialist and Co-Chair, LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee
During the 2016 Portland (Oregon) Pride Festival this past weekend, the Multnomah County Tobacco Control and Prevention Program was present to support healthy, smokefree living. I was proud to represent my dual roles as the Tobacco Prevention Program Coordinator for Multnomah County Health Department, as well as the Steering Committee Co-Chair for LGBT HealthLink, committed to improving the lives of LGBTQ people everywhere! Our program was part of a large Multnomah County booth representing many facets of the work we do, and at our table participants were able to take a survey, get cool rainbow swag, and commit to eating healthy and living smokefree. There were so many beautiful, fierce, brave people sharing themselves with the world; I felt honored to share space with everyone in celebration of our full selves. The energy and love that poured off everyone was intense!
The purpose of our survey was to assess LGBTQ people on their tobacco, nicotine and marijuana use, as well as attitudes and beliefs about the tobacco and vape industries. We conducted this survey last year as well, to start to get a look at trends of use within local LGBTQ communities in Multnomah County. This data can help us tailor our messages and programming to be most effective to help LGBTQ people live their healthiest lives. It is also an opportunity to create conversations with people and LGBTQ-serving agencies in our area about ways to support healthy, smokefree living.
We had a lot of attention over the past two days (most likely due to the amazing rainbow swag offered in exchange for the survey!), and now I turn to analyzing the data in the 350+ surveys that we received. Although I want to be optimistic that our communities are not representative of national and state data that show that LGBTQ adults are 2-3X more likely to smoke then heterosexual adults, I am concerned that we will have the same disproportionate rates here. I am hopeful that the work I am doing here in Multnomah County, and nationally through LGBT HealthLink, is helping change the culture in our LGBTQ communities around tobacco and nicotine use so we can all live and breathe a little easier.
Becky is the Tobacco Prevention Program Specialist for Multnomah County Health Department and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org