Alex Blaze

Smoking still high among LGBT people

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 01, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: American Lung Association, bisexual, lesbian, LGBT, smoking, transgender

The American Lung Association confirms what we've known for a long time, something that afflicts LGBT people that study after study has shown us particularly susceptible to:

The study indicates the LGBT population smokes at a higher rate than the general public. Data show that gay, bisexual and transgender men are up to 2.5 times more likely to smoke than heterosexual men. Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are up to twice as likely to smoke as straight women.

I don't really know what it is. Some blame it on the stress of being a minority. Some blame it on gay bar culture. I've heard it blamed on the counter-cultural cache of smoking. Still others say it's a lack of creativity when it comes to making up group activities among LGBT people. Some blame marketing campaigns to LGBT people (don't we usually like marketing campaigns that mention us?).

But those numbers are really high for LGBT people, so it's probably not any one thing. What could we do to bring those numbers down?

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In terms of campaigns: LCCP in Chicago (Lesbian Community Care Project, which used to be Lesbian Community Cancer Project) has been running the "Bitch to Quit" program for some years now. I don't know how successful it's been, but it's at least one example of a community-led effort.

I don't know about those trans** women who choose NOT to use hormones--for all the reason they do--but those who choose NOT to take estrogen are not subject to their doctor's straightforward:

Stop smoking!

I was.

As I believe women who take birth control--really the same thing as what I took/take, and just the same cause of cancer, heart attack and stroke.

Testosterone has its own side effects, though I'm not sure how many of them interact with smoking.

Doctors once were, as a profession, heavy smokers--though, as I understand it, after a concerted campaign through the profession, this is now more an issue of the past than the present.

It was hard, in the past, to reconcile doctors' position of privilege with the response of smoking, a response to stress--stress which is itself the body's reaction to oppression.

I cannot speak to the lives of gay and lesbian people, especially in Canada, which, more than a decade after the recognition of their human rights and approaching that for the recognition of hate crimes against them.

There is a difference, a significance difference, in privilege and the stress that comes from oppression, between gay/lesbian and trans** people.

The lives of transgender and especially transsexual people, who remain formally excluded from society, the trappings of events usually referred to as Gay Pride, remain oppressed in ways that, in Canada at least, are beginning to be nothing more than unpleasant memories for gay/lesbian people.

My usual footnote: Are the lives of gay and lesbian people perfect? Absolutely not!

But in the dimensions usually discussed on this site, they are far and away significantly better off, in formal terms at the very least, and many administrative ones also--such as same-sex marriage--than transgender people (who are not also gay/lesbian) and especially transsexual people (regardless of their orientation).

Thanks, Alex.
The numbers for LGBT persons is significantly high in most substance abuse statistics. Theories range from unresolved guilt/shame issues which lead to decreased self-worth and lack of healthy choices, to the "Fuck you" aspect of going against the society that oppresses. Some have even espoused a genetic theory which says LGBT persons are more prone to addictive behavior because of their biology!
No matter the case, our health as a community is important, and The National Association Of Gay and Lesbian Addiction Professionals has a lot of helpful information.

Until I know something of the methodology of their study and what LGBT even mean to them in terms of that survey I'll take this with a grain of salt. Sorry, but I've seen too many studies which make sweeping generalizations about transgender people from a survey of going to a free clinic, asking 12 people and extrapolating the data from that. Let's start with the accuracy of the source before we buy wholesale into the assumptions.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone stopped bitching about how privileged and oppressive gay and lesbian people are? It's untrue and beyond frustrating.

Jessica, your points re: how fucked trans people are in Canada (which I'm positive is true), could've been made without telling L+G people how comparatively awesome their lives are (which undoubtedly is NOT true for many many G+L people).

tomtab, you are entitled to deny history, laws that have been passed, administrative regulations that have be enacted, the massive public relations campaigns that have been made.

You can ignore the fact that social exclusion, the evidence for which you find so offensive, is what the social determinants of health doctrine was created to explain--and the void where human rights recognition and the recognition of hate crimes should be, which are themselves refused to be recognized, is itself the very exclusion this doctrine was created to understand.

You are entitled to the attitude that sanctions the abandonment of the struggle for the rights of trans** people, when trans** people have always been part of the struggle--the successful struggles--for the formal and explicit rights of gay and lesbian people.

And I am entitled to ignore you!

Jessica, what makes things especially bad in Canada for transsexual people, if I may ask. The way you wrote that it sounds like it's worse for medical transitioning people than it is for "transgender" people, which sounds pretty bad.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 2, 2010 6:16 AM

I finally burned my last ash in January by combining no smoking with no alcoholic beverages. One led to the other and after three weeks I had forgotten I had ever smoked. Admittedly my "habit" was small at five to six sticks a day, but they were generally with alcohol.