public health

Can ‘smoke-free’ policies nudge LGBT people to quit?

Cigarette smoking among lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) people in the United States is higher than among heterosexual adults—nearly 24 percent of the LGBT population smoke compared to nearly 17 percent of the straight population.

But a new study finds evidence of less smoking and greater intentions to quit among LGBT smokers who live in communities with smoke-free policies.

“Past research indicated despite overall declines in smoking, higher smoking rates persist in the LGBT community, due in part to social norms,” says Jenna Wintemberg, instructor of health sciences in the School of Health Professions at the University of Missouri.

“LGBT people face hostility and can feel excluded from social spaces, leading individuals to create their own spaces such as bars and nightclubs, which are often targets for marketing and promotion by the tobacco industry.”

Can fond memories prompt smokers to quit?

Researchers surveyed participants during Missouri Pride festivals with questions about where they live, personal tobacco use, and support for smoke-free policies. Of those who live in smoke-free communities, 94 percent were more likely to want to quit smoking compared to just 76 percent of those who lived in places without smoking bans.

The findings are published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

“Smoke-free policies have several positive outcomes for all people, not specifically those who identify as LGBT,” says Jane McElroy, principal investigator of the study and associate professor of family and community medicine. “These outcomes include overall lower smoking rates and changes in social norms regarding smoking.”

Further, only 35 percent of Missourians from the study sample live in an area with a comprehensive smoke-free law, compared to 82 percent of the population nationally.

Kevin Everett, associate professor of family and community medicine, and Bin Ge, statistician in the medical research department are study coauthors. The Missouri Foundation for Health supported the Out, Proud and Healthy project.

Source: University of Missouri

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