Funding · LGBT Policy · Presentations · Pride · Resources · Staff/Program Updates · State Work · Technical Assistance · Updates

A Year In Review: Spotlight on North Dakota Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program



Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity

When I started working with the Network almost 4 years ago the first state I had the pleasure to visit was North Dakota. During my visit I conducted two LGBT Cultural Competency training one for their grantees, and another at their Annual Statewide Alcohol and Substance Abuse Summit. At that time they were thinking about strategies to include LGBT communities in their tobacco control work and have not looked back since. I had the privilege of going back and spoke at the 3rd annual statewide GLBTQA conference held at the University of North Dakota this past

Left to Right: Neil Charvat, Gustavo Torrez, Rep. Kayie Overson, Rep Josh Boschee, and Krista Headland
Left to Right: Neil Charvat, Gustavo Torrez, Rep. Kayie Overson, Rep Josh Boschee, and Krista Headland

April, and was overjoyed at the progress they have made over the past couple years in terms of community support for LGBT tobacco control efforts. At times we can see progress through emails and updates here and there, but to actually see the level of community support for LGBT Tobacco Control efforts was absolutely amazing. From local LGBT groups to State Representatives its was truly refreshing especially for a state like North Dakota.  Over the past couple of years work in North Dakota has not stopped, in fact the work has grown to include more and more folks in the community committed to LGBT Tobacco Control efforts in the state. Neil Charvat, Community Health Specialist with the Chronic Disease Program at the North Dakota Department of Health has truly made some huge strides in the state. Neil has been charged with the talk of LGBT inclusion efforts and has forged many partnerships which have truly shaped the direction of their efforts. Most recently, a great article was published North Dakota puts $2,500 in anti-smoking funds toward Fargo pride festival, highlighting some of these efforts.

I wanted to take a moment and showcase in depth some of the great work that has taken place over the past year, and thank Neil for his commitment to inclusion efforts in North Dakota. I am so proud of the work that he has not only accomplished, but how the Department has truly institutionalized LGBT tobacco Control efforts in North Dakota. Please read his article below as he article below –  Engaging Disparate Populations: North Dakota LGBT Communities.

Neil Charvat
North Dakota Department of Health
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
Fiscal Year July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013

Engaging Disparate Populations: North Dakota LGBT Communities

The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) in the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) work to engage populations disparately effected by tobacco use on a statewide level. One of the populations identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as having high tobacco use rates and being targeted by the tobacco industry is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Efforts to engage North Dakota’s LGBT communities in tobacco control efforts have been made since 2008, varying degrees of success. The main obstacle has been identifying LGBT groups in North Dakota. The NDDoH TPCP was fortunate to become involved in Fargo-Moorhead Pridefest for the first time in 2011. FM Pridefest is the largest LGBT event held in North Dakota. This initial effort was to provide NDQuits information and materials to event attendees. In 2012 the ND DoH was again invited to be a part of FM Pridefest. In July, NDQuits marketing tools were utilized at the FM Pridefest 5K Run-Walk, and that event was tobacco-free. NDQuits material and information were promoted at the FM Pride in the Park in August. ND DoH staff attended the event. The staff was able to promote cessation efforts as well as provide information about tobacco issues that directly affected the LGBT community in North Dakota.

NDDoH TPCP staff had the opportunity to meet with Julia Geigle at the University of North Dakota. Julia is a graduate student at UND working on LGBT health issues. The meeting was to discuss the issue of tobacco use in the LGBT community, and the health impacts that resulted from that use. Information on engaging the LGBT community and promoting NDQuits cessation services were provided to Julia. As a result of this meeting, Julia invited the TPCP staff to participate in a UND LGBT conference in April, 2013. NDDoH was able to involve Gustavo Torrez from the Fenway Institute in the UND Conference. Gustavo travelled to the conference to present on LGBT tobacco and health issues. Gustavo was also able to engage North Dakota legislators in attendance by providing information on LGBT health issues. The conference was well attended by the UND LGBT campus community. As a result of the success of this event, there are plans to incorporate more events like this into the newly created ND Campus Tobacco Prevention Project. This project will involve most college campuses in North Dakota.

The NDDoH TPCP will continue to engage the LGBT in future tobacco prevention work for the next fiscal year.

Presentations · Staff/Program Updates · Updates · webinar

Join Me For a Live Webcast: The Passion and Power of Young People in the Ongoing Fight Against Tobacco

Kenneth E. Warner | Lecture Series

The Passion and Power of Young People in the Ongoing Fight Against Tobacco


Wednesday July 24, 2013 from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM EDT

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In-person attendance is limited to those attending the CTFK Youth Advocacy Symposium and Legacy Youth Leadership Institute Training. No registration is necessary to view the live webcast.


On Wednesday, July 24th, Legacy and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) will host a special youth-led panel discussion, as part of the Kenneth E. Warner Series Lecture, which will highlight the power and passion of youth engagement in tobacco control.

Young leaders will discuss the challenges and successes of the movement and, with the upcoming release of the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report, its significance in the future of tobacco control for years to come.

The live webcast will be archived for your convenience.

Moderator: Ritney Castine, Associate Director of Youth Advocacy, CTFK (Former Legacy Youth Board Liaison)


  • Chad Bullock, Founding Director of Forget Tobacco
  • Kaitlyn Reilly, Communications Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Anna Santayana, Grassroots Marketing Coordinator for Legacy (Former crew marketer for the truth®tour)
  • Lee Storrow, Managing Director of the NC Alliance for Health and Member of the City Council for North Carolina Chapel Hill (Former Legacy Youth Board Liaison)

& Yours Truly…. 

  • Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager for the Network for LGBT Health Equity


For more information, please contact Laura Cruzada at or 202-341-0324.

Arkansas LGBT Health Initiative · Staff/Program Updates · Technical Assistance

Statewide LGBT Health Initiative takes off in Arkansas


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity

As you may have see by my last post: Arkansas taking major efforts to reduce LGBT Tobacco and Health Disparities, great things are happening in Arkansas.

The Network is pleased to be facilitating the development of this joint initiative supported by the Minority Initiative Sub-Recipients Grants Office (MISRGO) and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

Over the past two days, I have been working with local community groups, MISRGO & DOH on discussing priorities for the groups, and we are arkansas-mappleased to announce the first initial project will be a statewide LGBTQ needs assessment. With an expected launch day of June 1st, we look forward to moving the project forward. With June being PRIDE month, there will be many opportunities to promote the needs assessment.

Our next visit will be May 20th, 2013 where we will convene the group at the Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR), Arkansas CenterLink Affiliate. As the leading youth LGBTQ center in Arkansas there is no better place to host the next meeting.

Just a little side note… We first introduced CAR to both MISRGO and ADH during our first visit to Arkansas back over two years ago during our cultural competency training sponsored by MISRGO. As part of our formal partnership with CenterLink and Equality Federation, we always reach out to both groups to identify local affiliates before we conduct such trainings. By incorporating local LGBT groups into our trainings we are not only providing local perspective, but access points to assist in understanding and reaching the LGBT community in the respective state.

Anyways, during our next visit to Arkansas we will focus on developing a dissemination plan for the needs assessment with a focus on both, the youth/young adult populations as well as minority populations throughout Arkansas.

We look forward to further development of the initiative, and working with both MISRGO and ADH collectively in an effort to reduce LGBT health disparities in Arkansas.


Recap of the 3rd annual GLBTQA Statewide conference in North Dakota


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity


I had such a great trip to North Dakota and was pleased to be asked to present and sit on the closing panel: of the 3rd annual North Dakota GLBTQA conference.ND GRoup

My session Truth: Social Justice and Health explored our work for equality and basic rights, as well as other social justice issues, such as health access and equity, which is often left out of the LGBT movement. While taking an expanded look at LGBT health disparities within the historical context of the equality movement, the presentation concentrated on tobacco use within our communities. As one of the most attended sessions, I was pleased to see the amount of support for a tobacco centered presentation at an LGBT conference. I opened the presentation with a brief history of the LGBT movement, and was surprised to find that very few of the participants knew what the Compton cafeteria riots were or even the Stonewall riots. There have been many pioneers that have shaped the future for us all and this rich history should be discussed more. Overall the presentation went really well, and I showed a video that really had people thinking about where we been and where we are going with our movement which I would like to share with you all:

The Gay Rights Movement

I always love to hear how grateful conference participates are to have national support at their “small little conference”. Our work in North Dakota would not be happening if it was not for the dedication and commitment by not only the local Department of Health, Tobacco Control Programs but more importantly the allies working tirelessly to partner with local community groups because they understand the importance of comprehensive LGBT tobacco control efforts in their state. With a focus on cessation and community partnerships, Neil Charvat, community Health Specialist with the Chronic Disease Program at the Department of Health has worked to build relationships with community groups, which led conference organizers to dedicate a workshop specific to health with a focus on tobacco control. This is a prime example of how beneficial it is to partner with local LGBT groups and organizations. I want to commend Neil and the many others for their passion for tobacco control and as allies they are shining examples of how one person can make the world of difference. I don’t think we thank the allies enough for their support as they stand in solidarity next to us working to combat tobacco use within our communities.

Left to Right: Neil Charvat, Gustavo Torrez, Rep. Kayie Overson, Rep Josh Boschee, and Krista Headland

Additionally, while at the conference I attended a morning workshop presented by Josh Boschee and Kayie Overson titled Get Engaged: Political Activism in North Dakota and Legislative Update. The workshop was an informal open discussion about how to advance issues of importance through legislation and grassroots action. While they shared their experience in political activism, opportunities for leadership development and lesions learned during the 2013 North Dakota legislative session.

I initially meet Josh a little over two and a half years ago when I was in North Dakota conducting Cultural Competency trainings for Department of health grantees, and at their annual substance abuse conference. Josh is now the first openly gay representative in North Dakota to secure a seat in the House of Representatives, representing District 44. It was great to catch up with him, and to meet District 42 Representative Kayie Overson at the conference. I am proud to see Josh in his role, as it provides hope for other LGBT young people who are interested running for public office.

I always enjoy speaking at conferences such as this. It’s so great to hear from the community on the ground, they are so grateful to have someone from a national group care about their state of North Dakota. The Network is focused on creating sustainable change; we are steadfast in supporting our states, and community groups no matter the locality.

Conferences · Presentations

Communities unite in North Dakota for the 3rd annual GLBTQA Statewide Conference – Discover The Movement


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
Good morning form chilly North Dakota



Its been over two years since I was last in North Dakota, and when I was asked to speak at the 3rd annual GLBTQA conference I was overjoyed at the progress they have made over the past couple years.  The Folks with the North Dakota Department of Health, Tobacco Control Program (DOH) are steadfastly working on LGBT inclusion efforts. While facing multiple challenges they are dedicated to ensuring comprehensive inclusion whenever possible. One of the key messages we tell states is to partner with local LGBT groups. We cannot stress this enough, if you show up to community events, conferences etc. you forge partnerships that will be invaluable in serving the community. It was the dedication of staff at the DOH, which lead conference organizers to allocate a specific slot in their agenda focused on Health and Tobacco, thus making it very difficult to say know to my friends at the DOH. This is the importance of collaborations, and making your presence known.0_0_0_0_539_404_csupload_54503476

My presentation: LGBT Health & Social Justice will take a look at our movement with a social justice framework, taking a walk through the LGBT movement, with a focus on tobacco use in the LGBT community.  I will also be sitting on a closing panel to recap the day, visioning for the future.

The conference aims to discover where the LGBTQA movement is; nationally, statewide, and personally.  With an emphasis on what the movement mean for individuals, identifying interest and direction for folks in attendance, and what folks in North Dakota can accomplish as a unified collective! With workshops designed to dig into these issues, they have various panels with community members, and Natalie (Klueg) Clark as their opening keynote.

The conference stands as a longstanding reminder of the tradition of support, education, and advocacy in GLBTQA activism in North Dakota. I look forward to a great day and most of all continued progress in North Dakota.

Quit Tips

Action Alert – Do you know an LGBT person who has quit smoking? Help us share their story…


Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
Do you know an LGBT person who has quit smoking? Help us share their story…

As you may have seen through our press statement today, CDC officially launched the Tips 2 Campaign this morning. We were pleased to report the inclusion of an LGBT focused ad, and ad buys to reach our community. In an effort to showcase the campaign ads, the National Networks will be hosting a series of stories and tips from our own communities, that will be hosted on our joint website

This is where we need your support…

We are looking for LGBT people who has successful quit smoking to share their stories on our joint site.  Over the Next week the website will launch with collected stories to date, and will be updated with stories as they are submitted.

If you have a friend who has quit, or maybe folks that have been through your cessation classes that you would like to showcase please fill out the attached form as soon as possible and send to either Christine Corrales with Appeal, or directly back to the Network

You can send the form directly to them, or you can call and fill it out really quick if they are interested in being showcased on the site. This is our opportunity to show our community that we can break the nicotine habit together, while sharing valuable tips for other looking for help as they work to quit.

Click the link below to automatically download the brief quick and simple form to fill out:

NN Website_Tips 2 Content Form

Thank you all for your continued support in ensuring LGBT representaiton in mainstreem tobacco control efforts.


The Legacy of Dr. C. Everett Koop…

Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity

A leader, advocate, pioneer,  and fellow rebel rouser Dr. C. Everett Koop’s legacy in tobacco control will always be remembered. Never backing down to the tobacco industry Dr. Koop changed the way we think about tobacco control. His vision for a smoke-free nation by 2000 challenged the country to re-think our strategies as we work to reduce the burden tobacco has caused us all. I have and will always respect Dr. Koop’s leadership, and his rebel rousing ways. I valued the fact that he stood up for what’s right, un-influenced by politics and money.  He ensured no matter what that his two cents were always heard, epically his views on tobacco use and the industry. So while we may have lost a pioneer in the field his legacy and fiery passion will live on forever…

I wanted to take a moment and share a statement released today by  Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

On the Loss of Dr. C. Everett Koop, a Tobacco Control Hero We are sorry for the loss of a giant in the field of public health. Dr. Koop recognized tobacco’s menace to public health, and he worked tirelessly to combat it. During his eight-year tenure as Surgeon General, he issued eight reports on the devastating health consequences of tobacco use. Among those were his famous 1986 report linking secondhand smoke and lung cancer and his 1988 report that found nicotine was as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Dr. Koop was a man of great integrity. He always looked to the strongest scientific evidence to call for changes that improve our nation’s health. He called for a smoke-free society by the year 2000, and campaigned for smoking restrictions in the workplace and public settings. Thanks in large part to his work, 26 states, the District of Columbia and thousands of cities and counties now protect their non-smoking residents with comprehensive smoke-free laws, and more adopt similar laws each year. This coming January will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on tobacco use, which linked cigarette smoking with lung cancer in men. Dr. Koop is a mighty link in the chain of doctors, scientists and public health professionals that stretches from that landmark report to this day. We send our condolences to his family with our love, our respect and our gratitude for a life well lived in service to others.

Action Alerts · Data · LGBT Policy · MPOWERED

Action Alert ***Support Data Collection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Clinical Settings***

Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity


Hello Everyone,

Long story short we are all pushing for and/or understand the importance of comprehensive inclusion of LGBT communities in all surveillance instruments through sexual orientation and gender identity measures. Currently the Health Information Technology Policy Committee is seeking comments on supporting the sexual orientation and gender identity data collection in Stage 3 Meaningful Use Guidelines.

By the Close of Business day we are hoping to get as many CEO’s and Directors of Organizations, Foundations etc. to sign on to a letter developed by the Fenway Institute and the Center for American Progress.

Can we count on your support….?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Plese Support Today

Click Here To Directly Sign Onto The Letter

Click Here To View The Full Blog & Letter

LGBT Policy · Presentations · Research Studies · Resources · Technical Assistance · Tobacco Policy

Tobacco Control In LGBT Communities: A journey through this valuable report

As I am sure you are aware on Tuesday Legacy released a new report: Tobacco Control In LGBT Communities. This report is another to hit the national stage to address the growing concern of tobacco use and the affect it has on LGBT people. The layout of this report is quite nice, first addressing Legacy’s role in the movement, but more importantly highlighting the prevalence rates, and the fact data collection efforts needs to continue so we can monitor tobacco use in our communities.fthfthutyu

While there are a lot of numbers folks who appreciate the data, sometimes the data does not truly share the full story. The report has a great section, Behind the Numbers: Tobacco and LGBT Communities. Which paints the story of why tobacco use is and continues to be an issues among our communities. It looks at Social Stigma and Smoking, the Bar and Club Culture, addressing health care disparities and the lack of access to health care our communities face. In addition they showcase tobacco industry targeting, and how smoking is normalized in our community in such a way that it has truly infiltrated our lives and LGBT culture overall. Additionally it goes in to the efforts the tobacco industry took in co-opting our community, and how tobacco companies were characterized as pioneers who stood in solidarity with our communities which is such a fascinating read.

We all know that there is a long standing history of LGBT people and tobacco. The report addresses some key points on what needs to be done moving forward with a set of actions public health and tobacco control organizations can take to counter tobacco in our communities:

  • Engage directly with the LGBT community to offer cessation and prevention services that are culturally competent.
  • Include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in population-based studies and surveys of health status.
  • Develop better and more standardized questions about sexual orientation and gender identity so a better picture of LGBT populations can be drawn.
  • Conduct longitudinal cohort studies, which follow participants over long periods of time.
  • Include, at all levels, LGBT people in mainstream tobacco control efforts.
  • Develop tobacco control media campaigns targeting LGBT communities.
  • Help LGBT communities and organizations find alternatives to tobacco industry funding.
  • Include LGBT youth in all levels of tobacco control efforts.
  • Ensure that the leadership of LGBT tobacco control efforts represents all LGBT communities, including traditionally disenfranchised segments such as transgender people, lesbian and bisexual women, people of color, LGBT youth, and LGBT people of lower socioeconomic status.

In the second part of this report it showcases four case studies of past legacy grantees. Leave no Funds Behind, which was a project the Network created working on Bridging the Gap Between LGBT Organizations and Tobacco Control Funding. As well as, Delicious Lesbian Kisses: A Social Marketing Campaign with Staying Power, Crush: The LGBT Lifestyle Project, and 30 Seconds: Helping Health Care Providers Reach LGBT Tobacco Users were all highlighted.

I highly recommend you take a look at this report, and share both the report and the factsheet created by legacy:

Tobacco Control In LGBT Communities Report

Tobacco Fact Sheet: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (Lgbt) communities and smoking

Feature · LGBT Policy · Resources · social media · Technical Assistance

LGBT Tobacco Control Efforts Taking The Spotlight

Gustavo Torrez
Program Manager
The Network for LGBT Health Equity
MPOWERED: Taking on CDC 

LGBT Communities smoke at rates 68% higher than the general population there is much work to be done to protect, and preserve our community, and many reasons that this disparity exists. Yesterday, Legacy released a report titled Tobacco Control in LGBT Communities.

To mark the release, Legacy hosted a panel discussion as part of their Warner lecture Series Tobacco Use in the LGBT Communities: Why LGBT People Smoke So Much & What Can Be Done About It . The panel took place at the Human Rights Campaign Headquarters in copy

For those of you who watched the live webcast, I am sure you can agree that this was a hugely dynamic group of folks, speaking with both passion and commitment about working to reduce the health disparities affecting our communities. While the focus was LGBT Tobacco Control, there was a lot of discussion about the intersectionality of tobacco and other health disparities that affect disparity communities. Next week, the webcast will be available on the Legacy archive, and we highly recommend you check it out if you missed the webinar yesterday!

Also, if you’re on twitter, you can search #warnerseries to see the blow-by-low live tweeting from the event!

Last year the American Lung Association released their report: Smoking Out The Deadly Threat, and the panel yesterday was yet another exciting moment when a national organization released a report addressing the issues and challenges around tobacco use in the LGBT community.

As the tides shift both on a national and local level, we are so excited to see the growing support for comprehensive inclusion of LGBT communities in Tobacco Prevention and Control!

Check out this amazing video shown at the event

More to come about this exciting event…