People who identify as LGBTQ+ have tobacco use rates almost 50% higher than people who are cisgender and straight. But that’s not the end of the story – the community is taking back control of our health and our bodies from the tobacco industry.
Tobacco companies tell you that using tobacco is the way to present yourself as more masculine, more feminine, more individual, and everything in between. Don’t let tobacco companies tell you how to be – talk to a Coach about the new ways you will express your identity without tobacco. Check out This Free Life to see how people are refusing to let tobacco be part of their identity.
Sometimes you have to adjust your normal routines while you quit. This includes spending more time with people who don’t use tobacco, or inviting people over instead of going to a bar to hang out. The more time you can spend away from tobacco, the easier it becomes to stay quit. Our Quitline Coaches receive special training and supervision for helping LGBTQ+ people quit and stay quit. Nearly all LGBTQ+ callers report that our Coaches are kind, respectful and compassionate people with whom they feel comfortable discussing all aspects of their life including sexual orientation or gender concerns. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) to get started.
Still a Target
Tobacco companies for decades have targeted the LGBTQ+ community as a market for their deadly product. And it worked.
especially youth, are
more exposed to tobacco advertising than their peers.
Tobacco advertising can take many forms, from ads in magazines to product placement in the movies and TV shows that
LGBTQ+ people watch. The companies also try to sponsor Pride festivals to make it seem like they care about the community.
Tobacco companies are in the business of getting you hooked, and they use flavored cigars, hookah, and electronic cigarettes to get you to use nicotine. They want you to use menthol flavors and experimental products because they know these products make you more likely to become a customer for life. Refuse to be a guinea pig for the tobacco companies by boycotting their products. You can stop and we can help!
Discrimination, Stress and Nicotine
Many people use tobacco to cope with stress – even though tobacco can make our physical and mental health worse. Quitting tobacco means finding new ways to deal with stress, like finding your support network and creating new routines.
Nicotine acts in the brain to produce ‘feel good’ chemicals that take away the sting of discrimination. Using nicotine to feel better eventually tricks the brain into thinking that not getting more nicotine is stress. Because nicotine withdrawal is a stress impersonator, using medications like nicotine replacement therapy to prevent cravings can make it easier to quit.
Health and Wellness
Quitting smoking can be stressful, but most people find that their
mental health improves
after they stop. Cigarette smoke can make you feel sluggish, and nicotine cravings are no fun.
Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink while quitting can make it easier to stay on track.
Talk to your healthcare providers about your mental health as you quit – you may need to adjust medication doses as you
become your new tobacco-free self.
Smoking can interfere with your immune system and makes treating conditions like HIV more difficult. Today, people living with HIV who smoke are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS-related causes. Talk to your healthcare provider about how quitting can benefit your care.
Hormone therapy used for gender alignment can be impacted by tobacco smoke. Feminizing hormones plus tobacco smoke can significantly increase your risk of blood clots that result in heart attacks, strokes, and other life-threatening conditions. Both masculinizing hormones and smoking can increase your risk of heart problems. Smoking surrounding surgery can make you more likely to have a failed operation, lead to open wounds that don’t heal, and infections. Talk to your Quitline Coach about these important reasons to quit, and talk to your healthcare providers for more information about tobacco smoke and health.
What Participants Say
We asked previous LGBTQ+ callers to tell us about their experience as an LGBTQ+ person using the quitline. Here is what they told us:
I was a bit nervous at first. I became very comfortable having discussed all issues related to LGBTQ life and such a high rate of smoking. I am very happy I made the decision to call you.
When I first started calling I felt more alone than I ever have in my life. Even though I have quit and started smoking again many times since, it remains an invaluable resource. It has helped more than anything else in my journey far away from tobacco.
I am thankful that I could be open and respected as I was going through the often difficult journey of quitting smoking. Smoking in the LGBTQ+ community especially is such a problem and I'm grateful for this program that others in the community can receive and receive with excellent support.
They do not discriminate against sexual orientation and I felt accepted.
I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to be involved in this program. It helped me tremendously. I would write down in my calendar our next scheduled call date. I looked forward to our conversations. Everyone can use a pep talk and cheerleader in life sometimes. I welcomed it with open arms and am grateful every day to be a non-smoker now.
I felt somewhat uncomfortable being asked my sexual identity as it's kinda taboo, but I started to feel more comfortable as I noticed the Quitline person was totally okay with my response. I think it's good your reaching out the LGBTQ community and letting them know you’re there for them too!
You have made me feel so much less alone. Thank you for recognizing me and being kind.