The tobacco industry has deceitfully weaseled their way in to the LGBTQ community with misleading marketing tactics to make it seem like tobacco use is a normal and healthy part of the LGBTQ experience. The industry pretends to be an ally to the community, donating to Pride festivals and HIV/AIDS-awareness organizations when in reality, the industry is only and will ever be looking out for the security of one thing- their revenue. LGBTQ youth are 2 times more likely to smoke than their straight peers and approximately 30,000 LGBTQ people will die every year from smoking-related illnesses. The industry also had the poor judgement to create a marketing campaign to target homeless people and the LGBTQ community called “Project SCUM”.
San Francisco has been a hot spot for the community’s fight against tobacco. The Coalition of Lavender-Americans on Smoking and Health, or CLASH, fought to bring the issue of tobacco to the forefront and forced the community to see that they were disproportionately affected by tobacco use. They even initiated the first study that found that the community had higher smoking rates than any other. The organization also called out publications, TV stations, politicians, and organizations that accepted money from the industry in an effort to denormalize tobacco.
10 years ago the CDC Officially created a LGBTQ control network to understand the unique attributes of tobacco control in this community. One crucial step the FDA has taken to address is an LGBTQ-centered anti-smoking campaign called This Free Life. International health organizations have begun to recognize tobacco’s effect on the LGBTQ community and has recognized the community’s ability to be an organized, passionate, and powerful ally in the fight against tobacco.