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New data shows widespread LGBT tobacco use
by Matt Simonette
2014-01-22

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Figures from a Jan. 17 report illustrate that tobacco products are still widely used by LGBT Americans.

According to the data, released by the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based CenterLink Network for Health Equity, the LGBT community spends almost $7.9 billion annually on cigarettes and other tobacco products, roughly 65 times what is spent on funding LGBT organizations each year. Data was compiled from results derived from the 2012 National Adult Tobacco Survey.

"It's a brutal truth," said CenterLink Director Dr. Scout in a statement. "We're spending more on something that kills us than everyone else is spending to help us."

According to the 2012 survey, 32.8 percent of LGBT respondents indicated that they smoked, versus 19.5 percent of other respondents. "LGBT people smoke at rates that are 68 percent higher than the general population, and the 50 years of Surgeon General's reports just show us how effectively lethal tobacco is," added Dr. Scout.

Dr. Phoenix Matthews, a tobacco researcher at University of Illinois at Chicago, said in the CenterLink statement that tobacco "preys on stigma" experienced by the community, people of color and the poor. "I hope this number shocks people enough so we start building tobacco control into all of our communities' health programs."

The 50th annual Surgeon General's report, also released Jan. 17, estimates that half a million Americans die from smoking-related causes, and that another 16 million suffer from smoking related illnesses, annually.

"Today, we're asking Americans to join a sustained effort to make the next generation a tobacco-free generation," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. "This is not something the federal government can do alone. We need to partner with the business community, local elected officials, schools and universities, the medical community, the faith community, and committed citizens in communities across the country to make the next generation tobacco free."

The CenterLink report can be viewed at http://www.lgbtcenters.org/news/555/LGBT-PEOPLE-SPEND-79-BILLION-YEAR-on-Our-Biggest-Health-Problem.aspx.

The surgeon general's report can be viewed at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/ .


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