Attitudes Toward The Tobacco Epidemic Among Gender And Sexual Minority Groups In The United States

Irene TAMI-MAURY, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, United States

1 Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, United States

PURPOSE: Approximately 4% of adults in the United States self-identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender individuals (LGBT), corresponding to about 9 million adults. There is reason to believe that cancer risk in this group is higher than the general population. However, few studies have examined how individuals from sexual and gender minorities perceive tobacco use and its health consequences. To address this gap, we conducted a community tobacco survey at local non-governmental organizations, health care facilities, and during the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Houston Pride Parade and Festival.  
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey (20 items) examined tobacco use, health risk perception, attitude toward the tobacco industry, sexual orientation, and other socio-demographic factors. Trained surveyors used a paper-and-pen instrument, and results from 279 completed surveys from self-identified LGBT individuals were analyzed.
RESULTS: The mean age of participants was 31 years (SD=11.0). The majority self-identified as gay (22%) and transgender (42%). Current cigarette use (every day or some days) among respondents was high (26%). However, there was no strong perception among study participants of high tobacco use prevalence among gender and sexual minorities. Most of the participants either agreed or strongly agreed with accepting sponsorship money from the tobacco industry for LGBT organizations/events/establishments. Interestingly, most of the respondents agree that there is too little emphasis on smoking as a health issue in the LGBT community.
CCONCLUSION: These preliminary findings confirm the high prevalence of tobacco use among gender and sexual minority groups. While these high rates are cause for concern, this effort provides important information that will be used for targeting interventions to prevent and reduce tobacco use in this vulnerable population in the state of Texas.