CDC’s #20Million Memorial

#20Million Memorial


Just a mere fifty years ago, the U.S. Surgeon General released its first report on smoking and health. It’s sad to report that since then, there have been an estimated 20 million deaths in the United States, all from smoking and/or exposure to secondhand smoke. To put 20 million into perspective, there are only 2 states that have more than 20 million residents, and that would be California and Texas.

smoking infograph

This addiction not only claimed 20 million lives, but it left husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and friends heartbroken and sometimes alone. To visually get their point across, the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) launched an online memorial, this will commemorate the loss of the 20 million people, who have lost their lives to smoking related diseases.

The campaign began October 7th. People all across the country are taking to social media to share their testimony of people whom they lost and how it has affected their families. You can also be a part of this heartfelt memorial.

How do you get involved you asked? Start by sharing a memorial—a message and/or a photo—of someone you know who has lost their life to a smoking-related disease. By posting your memorial on social media with the hashtag #20million, your submission will become a part of CDC’s #20Million Memorial.

Below are examples you can use when drafting your own memorial(s).\





Spread the Word

If you don’t know anyone who has died from smoking, you can still get involved by promoting the #20Million Memorial campaign as well. Listed below are sample social media messages for you to post on your organization’s social media platforms or on your social media sites:

  • Today marks the kickoff of CDC’s #20Million Memorial. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, 20 million people have died from a smoking-related illness. Share a memorial of someone you lost with the hashtag #20million.
  • Together with @CDCTobaccoFree, we honor the #20million we have lost due to smoking. Share a memorial post of someone you lost using the hashtag #20million.
  • Join @CDCTobaccoFree to raise awareness about the #20million people who have died because of smoking. www.cdc.gov/tips
  • Who in your life has been affected by a smoking-related illness? Share your story using the #20million hashtag. www.cdc.gov/tips

We hope that you will join us all in memorializing our loved ones, and potentially changing the lives of people who battle with tobacco use. If you have any questions, please contact Maggie Silver at uvt8@cdc.gov or Jackie Woodring at ime9@cdc.gov.




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

As you may have heard CVS pharmacy announced that it will no longer be carrying cigarettes and tobacco products. The CEO of CVS, whose father smoked and died young from cancer, stated that “cigarettes and tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered. This is the right thing to do.” Absolutely!

What does this have to do with LGBT people you ask? Plenty. Tobacco is one of our community’s biggest health problems. Even the federal government knows that. The 2014 Surgeon General’s Report on smoking clearly defined LGBT peoples as a population experiencing tobacco disparities. LGBT people smoke at a 68% higher rate than the population at large.  Prevalence of smoking among LGBT youth is somewhere in the range of 38% to 59%, whereas prevalence of smoking among all youth is in the 28% to 35% range. (1)  Removing tobacco products from the shelves of CVS stores’ will hopefully assist in lowering rates of smoking by reducing the availability and convenience of tobacco products.  Of course smokers could walk or drive down the street and get there cigarettes elsewhere, but there is reason to believe that the lack of availability can help cut the smoking rate. This new study shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults were more likely to smoke in states that had more permissive smoking laws. So, restricting access to tobacco is an effective way to reduce the tobacco use of LGBT people. CVS’ new policy is a step towards reversing the trend where tobacco sales have been normalized throughout society. This will hopefully shift some of the attitudes and conversation around smoking, especially in the LGBT community.


But why stop there? With the diabetes epidemic growing, how can pharmacies that carry diabetes medications also justify carrying high sugar foods with little to no nutritional value? There is hope that CVS will inspire more shifts like this to enable a better health access and deliver paradigm.

Because of this action, and the potential prevention implications, the American Public Health Association has a petition to end tobacco sales in healthcare settings. I highly encourage you to sign and share this petition with your friends and loved ones!

(1) Lee JG, Griffin GK and Melvin CL. Tobacco use among sexual minorities in the USA, 1987 to May 2007: A systematic review. Tobacco Control. 2009; 18:275-282.

Quit Tips

Cigarette butts: why are we still throwing them on the ground?!?!

DMT headshot

Daniella Matthews-Trigg
Program Associate
Attempting to air my pet peeves in a constructive way 



A survey released in April by Legacy shows that while “more than 88 percent of Americans surveyed think that cigarette butts are an environmental concern, more than 44 percent of those polled who had ever smoked admit to having dropped a cigarette on the ground and nearly 32 percent have dropped a cigarette out of a car window.”

UM HELLO!? I would bet that the majority of the people surveyed would NEVER even think of dropping a plastic bottle on the ground, or throwing wrappers out of their car window. So why don’t people feel like cigarette butts are the same thing? Why does dropping a used cigarette not “count” as littering?

In an increasingly health and environmentally conscious world, cigarette butts remain one of the only socially acceptable forms of littering left.

Oh, and did i forget to mention? “Cigarette butts contain carcinogens that can leach into soil, and chemicals that are poisonous to wildlife, threatening to contaminate water sources.” 

And, “Contrary to popular belief, cigarette filters are not biodegradable. They’re made from cellulose acetate, a plastic that absorbs tobacco “tar” and eventually breaks down in the environment, but never loses its toxicity and can poison essential links in the aquatic food chain.”

Watch this awesome video by Legacy for some serious perspective: (pun intended)

So, What can we do?


1. Hold ourselves accountable– Don’t throw cigarette butts on the ground! THE END! EW!

(Need help quitting? Check out http://www.smokefree.gov/for FREE counseling and resources! )

2. Make sure that people who smoke have access to proper receptacles to dispose of butts- Talk to owners of local bars and businesses and encourage them to provide trash cans or cigarette disposal places outside their venues. Encourage your community to provide trash cans and cigarette-butt receptacles in parks and on shopping streets.

3. Remind others– A gentle “Oh, I think there’s a trash can over there” will remind people not to throw their butts on the ground.

4. Volunteer with your local awesome tobacco-control folks/Public Health groups/environmental groups– to pick up litter in your community

5. Be a trendsetter– Carry a small plastic bag (and a plastic glove for the ickiness factor) with you when you’re in the outdoors to pick up butts and other micro trash that you encounter.

6. Support policy that addresses this issue from a environmental and social standpoints-Check out this grant program for communities to reduce toxic pollution, The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, an article on the case for an environmental policy on hazardous cigarette waste, and Policy Tools by the Tobacco Control legal Consortium. 

7. Educate yourself and others– Spread the word! 

These toxins don’t just go away…they leach into the ground or are ingested by animals

Check out these other websites and resources:

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands. (Check it out at lnt.org)

Make sure there are receptacles for cigarette butts


Download Legacy’s factsheet on cigarette litter

A pocket ashtray! A little bit icky perhaps, but super responsible!

Billions of Pieces of Toxic Trash are Leaching Deadly Chemicals

No butts: The campaign to reduce, recycle cigarette waste

The Environmental Impact of Cigarette Butt Waste Factsheet

social media

WIN! CDC gets in on pride fabulosity

The Network for LGBT Health Equity
Makin’ sure you see the COOL stuff

Exciting news! You know the CDC’s Tips from Former Smoker’s campaign? Well, in honor of pride month (whooooo!), the CDC has come out with a very cool graphic specifically targeted to the LGBT community:

When the CDC first reported out to the tobacco disparity networks (we are one of these!) on their historic $40M tobacco control ad campaign, they didn’t mention anything about tailored media. As most of you know, LGBT smoking rates are through the roof, and most disparity populations also have disproportionate rates around tobacco: For example, Black/African-Americans have higher mortality rates, Asians are more likely to smoke the more acculturated to U.S. they get, Latinos have access to care problems that magnify the impact, and on, and on. The idea that the CDC wouldn’t use tailored ads in their never-before, humongous ad campaign was baffling… tailored marketing is how the tobacco industry built these disparities in the first place.

We urged them to include tailored media for all, including LGBT (We also urged them to buy ads in the LGBT blogs, which we hope might still roll out more in year 2).

Well, we’re happy to say not only have they done a few buys in LGBT media, but they’ve also rolled out this fabulous social media tailored ad! You can also check it out on the CDC tobacco free facebook page and on twitter at @CDCTobaccoFree!

Great job CDC 🙂

For more information and stats on smoking in the LGBT community, click HERE.