Tobacco Policy

Tobacco Control Act: Filling in the Gaps with Show and Tell

By Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
Tobacco Control Act: Filling in the Gaps with Show and Tell

I just got off of a very informative webinar with members of the FDA, the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing (a project of the American Lung Association in California) and the Technical Assistance Legal Center (a project of Public Health Law and Policy) along with community tobacco-control activists, explaining what exactly the Federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (aka the Tobacco Control Act) does…and how it is affects, and inspires, local tobacco-control policy.

The federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed by Obama in 2009, gave the FDA authority over tobacco products for the first time.

Two significant parts of the law are the rules around warning labels on tobacco packaging and advertisements, as well as the ban on sales of flavored cigarettes.

The webinar today focused on the regulation and enforcement of the tobacco control act by the FDA, as well as legal challenges and filling in the gaps of the law with the creation of local ordinances.

Ann Simoneau, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement at the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, spoke about the FDA’s regulatory progress since the law was created and the actions taken by the FDA to enforce the law.

Elisa Laird-Metke, TALC staff attorney, discussed the restrictions on tobacco products contained in the federal law and regulations, and the pending lawsuits that are currently affecting the law’s enforcement.

Lastly, Vanessa Marvin, Director of the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing (a project of the American Lung Association in California), spoke with Anne Pearson and Janie Burkhart,  who both worked on passing local flavored tobacco bans in New York City and Santa Clara County, CA. (Note: While the Tobacco control act bans flavored cigarettes, it does not ban other flavored tobacco products)

New York City is the first city in the country to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Anne Pearson talked about the rationale for the ban, which was that flavored tobacco products are made to appeal to kids, and the opposition from the cigar industry, which lobbied for a cigar exemption saying that cigars aren’t smoked by youth, which we know is untrue. Miss Pearson’s advice to others trying to pass local bans is to be able to show the scope of the problem in the local area, and prove that tobacco is a problem. In New York they presented both data AND tobacco products, and policy makers were shocked at how obviously targeted the products were to youth.

I was especially interested in the “show and tell” method used by the local activists to showcase and explain the targeting of youth by tobacco companies, as well as the idea that while waiting for local government to regulate (things such as flavored tobacco), local governments must step in.

These ideas are all easily applicable to tobacco-control in the LGBT community- Showing policy makers examples of LGBT targeting in the form of sponsorships and advertising, and then telling them about the disparities through data.

While the Tobacco Control Act was (and still is) a huge step forward in tobacco-control, it is also a jumping off point for more local and community-based activism, especially around groups such as youth and the LGBT population, that have especially high rates of tobacco use.


Cigarette Warning Labels Ruled Unconstitutional

By Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate, Network for LGBT Health Equity
Cigarette Warning Labels Ruled Unconstitutional

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that it was unconstitutional to impose laws in which tobacco companies have to put graphic warning labels about the consequences of smoking, on cigarette packaging. While this ruling did not come as a surprise, it is still a disappointment. The hope was that these labels- featuring pictures of oral cancer, diseased lungs, and a tracheotomy, among others- would have an impact on the 4,000 youth who try smoking for the first time each day.

Despite this small setback, the FDA is appealing the decision, and tobacco-control efforts will continue- stronger than ever. This hopefully will serve as a reminder of not only the odds that we are up against in the tobacco industry, but also the importance and impact of targeted anti-smoking campaigns.

LGBT Policy · Resources · Uncategorized

Adding to the Data About LGBT Cancer Survivors

by Liz Margolies, LCSW
Director, National LGBT Cancer Network
New York, NY



Adding to the Data About LGBT Cancer Survivors

 After years of complaining about the lack of data on LGBT health disparities and health experiences, The National LGBT Cancer Network finally has an opportunity to conduct our own research study.  You tell us your story and we will tell the world.

My organization focuses on the cancer risks, screening rates and survivorship experiences of LGBT people. Until national cancer surveys and registries begin collecting information about gender identity and sexual orientation, LGBT survivors remain invisible within the wealth of data there. As Scout makes repeatedly clear, without reliable information, we are limited, not only in our knowledge, but in our ability to develop fundable programs that address this population.

In the absence of national studies, LGBT researchers have taken it upon themselves to find out what they can.  These studies are usually small and sometimes the results are contradictory.   We need more studies and larger studies.  Still, we are all extremely grateful to people like Judy Bradford, Ulrike Boehmer and Ilan Meyer for their work that helps us put faces and facts on LGBT health disparities.

My opportunity to join their ranks came via an email last August from a total stranger, a heterosexual nursing professor from California State University San Bernadino who noticed that the “healthcare system was doing a crappy job of addressing LGBT patients.”  She had an opportunity to get a small research grant and wondered if someone from my Network would like to collaborate on a study of LGBT survivors.  I said simply and swiftly, “YES!”.   

I have still never met Dr. Marilyn Smith-Stoner in person, but our survey is up and running and we already have plans to present the results in October at the 5th Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved in San Diego.  I guess I’ll finally meet her in the hotel room we are going to share.

Our study focuses on the moment of a cancer diagnosis.  We are interested in who was in the room with you, who made up your support team, were you out to your provider and, if so, did that affect your treatment.  We need a large and diverse group of people to take the (short and anonymous) survey, so we can see if there are differences by geography, race, cancer type, gender identity, age, etc.

We have gotten the word out through our Facebook page, twitter, a Huffington Post blog, print ads in LGBT publications and our newsletter.  We are now asking that you push this out as far and wide as YOU can, engaging your own networks.  The more people who take the survey, the more we will learn.

And, if anyone needs a tad more encouragement, participants can enter a raffle to win one of ten $50 gift cards.

If you have gone through the challenge of a cancer diagnosis, please tell us your story.  Good or bad, we need to know.

You can find the survey online here.

Conferences · Creating Change · Creating Change 2012 · Data

No One Should Be Left Behind: A Creating Change 2012 Campaign to Keep T Data Collection Rolling with LGB

Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
No One Should Be Left Behind: A Campaign for Health Equity

This Spring, HHS will be adding an LGB question to their premier survey, the National Health Interview Survey. This is a great step forward in ending discrimination.

Unfortunately, the plans for adding transgender questions seem stalled. We asked HHS to take more community input and they did – now it’s time to get the development of trans questions back on track.

Trans health disparities are profound. Trans people smoke more, have less insurance, higher rates of suicidality, and report frequent medical discrimination.

These problems remain invisible as long as trans people are not counted in surveys.

We are asking HHS not to leave any members of our community behind and that the process is restarted to make sure questions about trans status are tested and added to all of the key health surveys in 2012.

Click HERE to sign the petition!

Please spread the word! You can send people to the direct link:

We kicked off the campaign at Creating Change this year and would like to send out a huge thank you to all of the attendees who posed for photos and signed the petition!

Tobacco Policy · webinar

Mobilizing Youth: Organizing Kick Butts Day 2012


Mobilizing Youth: Organizing Kick Butts Day 2012

Daniella Matthews-Trigg

Program Associate




Last night, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids hosted a National Youth Webinar to start planning for Kick Butts Day 2012.

Kick Butts Day, their national day of activism, is coming up in just over two months and the preparations are in full swing!

They started out the call by talking about all of the great resources that they have available to youth and adult supervisors to help organize a Kick Butts Day event!

Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids is offering mini-grants for $500 and $1000 to help sponsor and fund Kick Butts Day events. They are looking for events with clear educational or accountability message or targeted to decision-makers or policy-makers. To sign up and apply for a grant, click here!

They also have “events in a box”, which include everything needed for a Kick Butts Day event! There are different themes, including “They put WHAT in a cigarette?!”, which emphasizes the chemicals in tobacco, and “Under the Radar”, which teaches about advertising that targets teens and young adults. For more info on activities, click here!

There are tons more resources on their website, such as:

–          customizable, downloadable posters

–          downloadable stickers with instructions

–          Kick Butts Day Activity and Media Guides

The representative from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also emphasized the importance of registering  Kick Butt Day Events on the site, so events can be documented, media can be planned, and goodies can be sent out.

And, the coolest part of the call was when youth representatives from SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco)  in Florida spoke about their Kick Butt Day events from past years!

Some Examples of the events included:

– Tabling for Kick Butts Day at the County Fair, which was being held at the same time, and consequently reaching a larger number of people.

– Doing interviews on local radio stations

– Holding events that awareness about candy flavored tobacco products and their targeting of youth

– Hosting an art showcase and inviting community members, local policy makers and, because it was an election year,  political candidates.

All of the events were so creative! I was very impressed. And it got me thinking, with all of this outreach and involvement of youth around tobacco control, are LGBT youth getting involved too? A quick Google search of  “LGBT Youth Tobacco” got me tons of articles and information on the disparities in smoking between LGBT youth and  heterosexual youth, but not as many programs and organizations specifically targeting this. So we know this is a huge problem. Here is a crazy statistic from our website:

In a recent national study on adolescent health, 45% of females and 35% of males who reported same-sex attraction or behavior smoked; compared to only 29% for the rest of the youth.

In a study titled “Coming Out about Smoking: Tobacco Use in the LGBTQ Young Adult Community”, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) found that LGBT youth are likely to smoke due to “unique stressors such as discrimination and lack of family acceptance” and that many see smoking as an important social activity.  The report recommends that in order to reduce smoking rates, there should not only be outreach to youth smokers that focus on health risks, but also intervention programs designed by youth and for youth should be utilized. Hellooo! Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids is totally ahead of the curve.

So, attention all  LGBT youth organizations out there! How would you like to apply for a mini-grant and host an LGBT Kick Butts Day extravaganza that educates the community about the targeting not just of youth by the tobacco industry, but of LGBT youth?!  It would be amazing. And we at the Network would LOVE to help you out! So, take advantage of this amazing opportunity and all of these great resources and sign up with Kick Butts Day. And then let us know!!! Email us at or send us a message here!

Conferences · LGBT Policy · Summit · Tobacco Policy · Uncategorized

Summit Registration Open!

Summit Registration Open!

The Network for LGBT Health Equity

Registration for our 8th annual National  LGBTQ Health Equity Summit is now open!!! Click here to download the registration form.

We are so excited for this year’s summit! The LGBT Health Equity Summit is an official ancillary meeting to the National Conference on Tobacco or Health and will address promising practices in both LGBT health and tobacco control. Our goal is to give participants tools and strategies to strengthen and advance their movements in their own communities. We are expecting a broad group of individuals from all areas of health equity, LGBT advocacy and tobacco control, both seasoned and emerging leaders, community activists, Federal and state health department employees and policymakers.

If you would like to receive updates and be kept in the loop about abstracts, speakers, and more, sign up here.

And, make sure you check out our amazing Planning Committee, who are working so hard to make this years summit a success. We couldn’t do it without their creativity, hard work and dedication!

The call for abstracts will be announced soon, so stay tuned…

We hope to see you at the summit!!!


National Youth Webinar TONIGHT for Kick Butts Day 2012


National Youth Webinar TONIGHT for Kick Butts Day 2012

Network for LGBT Health Equity



In just over two months, on March 21st 2012, the 17th annual Kick Butts Day will take place!

Put on by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against Big Tobacco at hundreds of events around the country.

Events are organized by teachers, youth leaders, community members and health advocates who wants to mobilize young people and raise awareness about the problems of tobacco use in local schools and communities.

TONIGHT, Thursday January 19th, at 9pm-10pm EST there will be a webinar for youth advocates to learn more about several new initiatives surrounding Kick Butts Day including:

– $500 and $1,000 mini-grants

– events in a box

– A new activity guide and printable promotional templates

Members of the Kick Butts Day planning team as well as youth leaders from Florida’s SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) will walk attendees through the registration process, talk about the technical and media assistance available and answer any questions about Kick Butts Day 2012.


National Youth Webinar

Thursday, Jan 19, 2012 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM EST

1.         Click here to REGISTER NOW:

2.         Join the conference call on Thursday:

Dial: +1 (888) 277-8450

Access Code: 987716

Webinar ID: 494-858-550

Please send your questions, comments and feedback to:

System Requirements:

PC-based attendees required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer



We hope that you can join us on this call to hear about all the amazing work that is being done by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Kick Butts Day 2012 organizers!

Blogs en español · Conferences · Creating Change · Puerto Rico · social media

Counting Down to Creating Change

Counting Down to Creating Change

Daniella Matthews-Trigg

Program Associate

Greetings all!

So there are some very exciting things afoot here at the Network. What with strategic planning, Community Transformation Grants and  Planning for our 8th annual LGBTQ Health Equity Summit we are busy busy! And, for five days at the end of this month, we are going to not only be working hard, but having a BLAST at Creating Change 2012!

Creating Change, put on by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force,  is the ultimate LGBT equality conference. With over 2,500 people, five days and over 250 workshops, needless to say, we are SO EXCITED! The Network will have a booth at the conference, be attending sessions, blogging and tweeting live and networking up a storm! And…(drum roll please…) I would like to introduce our 2012 Creating Change Scholarship Recipient Hector Martinez!

Hector was born in Mexico and grew up in San Diego. He graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science, worked for Grassroots Inc, advocating for marriage equality and civil rights, successfully campaigned for the release of Joseph Bukempo (a gay asylum seeker from Uganda) and his current role is increasing awareness of mental health and wellness to the LGBTQ community of San Diego at Mental Health America. He also is a triathlon runner and does acrobatic yoga. Hector, we are looking forward to meeting you!

And, in this post full of exciting news, we have one more announcement: Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz, spokesperson for Transexuales y Transgeneros en Marcha (TTM) in Puerto Rico, will also be attending this years Creating Change with us! We met Sophia at the LGBTT Health Summit in Puerto Rico last year.  We recently worked with Sophia  on the action alert around the under counted murders of trans people in PR and Transgender Day of Remembrance. And, we are extra excited, because Sophia will be blogging in Spanish from Creating Change!

Nace un 15 de junio de 1970, en San Juan, Puerto Rico. Se inició temprano en el trabajo voluntario en diferentes organizaciones de carácter religioso y/o cívico. Estuvo consciente de su identidad de género desde muy temprano en su desarrollo, dando muestras de la misma desde la temprana edad de 8 años. Con tres años universitarios decide trasladarse a la ciudad de San Francisco, donde no pudo ingresar a ninguna universidad, ya que el idioma se convirtió en un obstáculo para lograr completar su grado universitario. Es en la ciudad de San Francisco es que descubre su vocación de Advocate y comprende que solo de esa forma podría trabajar para lograr un cambio en las actitudes de la gente. Luego de haber trabajado en varias organizaciones de base comunitaria en la ciudad de San Francisco, retorna a Puerto Rico y comienza a trabajar en Fundación SIDA en el año 1995. Utilizando la estructura y recursos de esta organización de base comunitaria logra formar el primer grupo de apoyo de transexuales y Transgéneros en Puerto Rico. Por su perseverancia y empeño logra que el grupo se convirtiera en la primera y única organización hasta el presente que representa los intereses de esta comunidad en Puerto Rico, Transexuales y Transgéneros en Marcha (TTM), logrando insertarse en iniciativas a nivel nacional que buscan mejorar la calidad de vida de la comunidad LGBTT, entre estas cabe mencionar: Community Disscussion Group Metting (1996), HRSA Pool of Peer and Professional Consultant. (2000), HRSA Transgender Consultation Metting, Washington, D.C. (2005), Comité Anti Discrimen Departamento de Justicia, PR, 2009, Comité Organizador/Programático Primera Cumbre en Salud LGBTT (marzo/2011), East Branch Co-chair Trans Latinas Coalition (2009) entre otras. Desde los comienzos de la Organización ocupo la posición de Secretaria dentro del Comité Ejecutivo, convirtiéndose en la Portavoz de dicha Organización.

Born on June 15, 1970, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sophia was involved with volunteering in different civic and religious organizations from an early age. She was aware of her gender identity from a very age. After three years of college she decided to move to San Francisco, where she could not enroll in any university because of language barriers. In San Francisco she discovered her passion for advocacy and social justice work. After working in various community-based organizations in San Francisco, she returned to Puerto Rico and began working in Fundación SIDA in 1995. Utilizing the structure and resources of this community-based organization allowed her to create the first support group for transsexuals and transgender people in Puerto Rico, Transexuales y Transgéneros en Marcha (TTM). As a result of their perseverance and commitment to the community, the group became the first and only organization up until that time to represent the interests of this community in Puerto Rico. TTM successfully spearheaded national initiatives that seek to improve the quality of life for the LGBTT community in Puerto Rico. These initiatives include Community Discussion Group Meeting (1996), HRSA Pool of Peer and Professional Consultants (2000), HRSA Transgender Consultation Meeting, Washington, DC (2005), Anti-Discrimination Committee in the Department of Justice, PR, 2009, Organizing Committee for the First LGBT Health Summit (March 2011), East Branch Co-chair Trans Latino Coalition (2009) among others. Since the inception of the organization, Sophia has held the position of Secretary on the Executive Committee and has become the Speaker of the Organization.

So, all of you readers out there, stay tuned for blogs from all of us at the Network, and Sophia and Hector, and make sure you follow us on twitter (@lgbtHlthEquity)! We are so excited about attending Creating Change and continuing to create change in our communities around LGBT health equity.


A New Year: Quitlines, targeted campaigns and the LGBT community

A New Year: Quitlines, targeted campaigns and the LGBT community

Daniella Matthews-Trigg

Program Associate

Greetings all!


So, here we are at that infamous time when we try especially hard to improve ourselves. And between recovering from holiday indulgences and starting a new year, there can be a lot of work to do.

Quitting smoking is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions and 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of one of the major smoking cessation tools: the first Quitline in North America!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the effectiveness of targeting campaigns toward specific communities. Quitlines are a resource that is available to everyone, but targeted campaigns make sure that every community KNOWS that it is an available resource for THEM.

Quitlines have been shown to be extremely effective in supporting people through their quitting by offering “coaching and counseling, referrals, mailed materials, training to healthcare providers, Web-based services and, in some instances, free medications such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)”, and often in the process of quitting, what is most needed is SUPPORT.

One excellent campaign, Your Quit Date, is from Project Filter, a program of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Starring local LGBT celebrities as spokesmodels, the fabulous Martini and comedian Matt Bragg, the ads highlight “quit date” goals and the free resources available through the quitline and project filter. It speaks right to the community about the culturally competent support through Quitlines that are available for THEM.

This campaign is fun, relevant and effective and we LOVE it!

At the network, we also have some really useful resources about why it is so important to make Quitlines culturally competent and how to make it happen. Check out this brief policy paper on the reasons for adding sexual orientation and gender identity questions to state tobacco quitlines . A case study titled “Making Minnesota’s Quitlines Accessible to LGBTs” is an brief, informal interview with a leader in an amazing statewide effort to enhance LGBT access to tobacco quitlines. It covers goals, challenges, and a lesson learned and is an excellent inspiration for other organizations and states doing similar work. Additionally, download and print a few copies of our targeted national quitline poster to put up! (Do you have anything that we should add to our list of resources? We love knowing about the work that is done, so click here or email us at!)

Rates of smoking in the LGBT community are higher than in the general population, so it only makes sense that these communities be especially focused on for smoking interventions. We know that LGB and T communities are often stigmatized and discriminated against and therefore, reasonably, are more hesitant to access services. Creating campaigns that target the LGBT community  is a way to successfully reach this vulnerable population.

Additionally, many LGBT people live in rural areas and are socio-economically disenfranchised and as a result may face even more difficulties when accessing care. Quitlines are FREE and accessible to everyone who has access to a phone. They are toll free and can even be called from a payphone. Because of the proven success and accessibility of Quitlines, they should be a focus of anti-smoking interventions in the LGBT community.

At this time of year when people are working on their resolutions to quit smoking, we need to make an extra effort to make sure that resources are culturally competent and that people in our community know about all of the services that are available. So lets all add “increase and support LGBT cultural competency and targeting in Quitlines and anti-smoking campaigns!” to our list of resolutions this year…and hopefully it’ll last longer than the one about going to the gym.


New study review: Uncovering answers about “social smoking” in college and targeted anti-smoking campaigns

Daniella Matthews-Trigg

Program Associate

New study about “social smoking” in college

A fascinating new study titled, “Occasional smoking in college: Who, What, When and Why?  By Amy E. Brown, Matthew Carpenter, and Erin Sutfin, looks at the prevalent phenomenon on college campuses of “social smoking” at parties and while drinking. I was on a call last week where Matthew Carpenter and Erin Sutfin spoke about their study and the tobacco control implications they had found.

First, some interesting stats and findings from the report:

  • The mean age for smoking initiation in the US is 17.5
  • The mean age for initiation of DAILY smoking is 20.7
  •  65% of college tobacco users smoke occasionally
  •  The belief that occasional smoking holds no health risks
  •  Quit intention was based on future milestones ( “I’ll quit when I graduate” or “when I have kids I won’t smoke anymore”)
  •  Smoked for emotional and social reasons

But, what I found most interesting was the intentional avoidance of regular smoking. The students interviewed did not identify as smokers and found social smoking or smoking when drinking socially acceptable versus “sober smoking”, which was “gross” and unacceptable.

The study concludes with some interesting findings including the stigmatization of being a smoker and the widespread beliefs by the students that there is no harm in occasional smoking and that they will be able to quit whenever they decide to.

The implications of these results brought up in the discussion of the study were that, because college students don’t identify as smokers, they fall through tobacco cessation cracks.  They suggest that instead of asking “are you a smoker?”, the question asked should be “how many cigarettes have you smoked in the last month?”. Also, because college students and adolescents have trouble seeing long-term consequences, focusing on the immediate health risks (wrinkles, yellow teeth, etc.) is more effective. They also stressed that although occasional smoking is not safe by any means, the biggest risk is progression to chronic smoking, and that the “trajectory of smoking is modifiable”. Additionally, college smokers present a unique, captive population in that they are often living in one area for four years, so there are lots of possibilities for interventions.

And, focusing on the internal struggle and tension between fitting in with social smoking and the desire to not be seen as a “smoker” may be the key to the most successful smoking interventions on college campuses.

This, to me, speaks to the importance of targeted anti-smoking campaigns.

College students are a particular population with specific views and beliefs about smoking.

As an example of an excellent campaign that targets college students, click here (sorry the images are so small, but it was too good to pass up!) The front of the cards have statements such as ” I’m not a smoker, I only smoke at parties” and “I’m not addicted to tobacco, I only smoke when I’m stressed”. The back counters these statements with a few poignant bullet points that focus on the belief that social smoking is not addictive or harmful.

The LGB and T communities are similar in their needs for targeted campaigns that identify the community’s specific beliefs and views about smoking and counters them.

At the Network we want to know what kind of targeted campaigns you’re working on, and why it’s working (or not working!) or tell us about a targeted campaign that you felt was particularly effective for your work.

Keep up all the good work, keep us in the loop and happy holidays!