Hoping to reduce tobacco use by young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched an LGBT stop-smoking campaign.
“We know LGBT young adults in this country are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco as other young adults,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
“We want LGBT young adults to know that there is no safe amount of smoking. Even an occasional cigarette can have serious health implications and lead to addiction,” he said in an agency news release.
The campaign specifically targets 18- to 24-year-old LGBT smokers. At least 800,000 of the more than 2 million LGBT young adults in the United States are occasional or social smokers, according to the FDA.
A key reason for high tobacco use among this group of young adults is the real and perceived social stigma, discrimination and anxiety they experience when they “come out,” the FDA stated.
Many find a sense of community in LGBT bars and clubs where tobacco use is common, and some leading LGBT public figures openly promote tobacco use, the agency explained.
The new campaign “is designed to challenge the perception that tobacco use is a necessary part of LGBT culture,” said Richard Wolitski. He is acting director of the Office for HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“The campaign shows LGBT young adults they can be the person they want to be and still live tobacco-free,” Wolitski explained.
Entitled “This Free Life,” the campaign was scheduled to launch in 12 regions nationwide this week with print, digital and out-of-home ads. Local outreach efforts will also highlight tobacco-free attitudes and lifestyles within the LGBT community.
The $35.7 million campaign is funded by user fees collected from the tobacco industry, not taxpayer dollars.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on LGBT health.