SOURCE: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

November 21, 2013 13:30 ET

LA County Urges LGBT Community to 'Break Up With Tobacco' in New Anti-Smoking Campaign

California LGB Populations Smoke at More Than Twice the Rate of Heterosexuals

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Nov 21, 2013) -  The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health today launched an unprecedented new anti-smoking campaign aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) populations in California smoke at more than twice the rate of the heterosexual population.

The "Break Up With Tobacco" campaign -- centered around nightlife venues and gyms in West Hollywood, Long Beach and other parts of LA County -- will feature a new take on break up lines encouraging smokers to end their toxic relationships with tobacco. The innovative intervention will combine traditional and experiential marketing, street team outreach and social media elements to facilitate peer-to-peer conversation within the LGBT community about the negative effects of cigarettes and tobacco use. 

"Despite LA County's relatively low overall smoking rate, the smoking rate among the LGBT populations continues to be unacceptably high, due in part to specific targeting by the tobacco industry," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Public Health Director and Health Officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "The Break Up With Tobacco campaign will counteract tobacco marketing and certain societal norms to spread a positive health message in a way that resonates with the community."

According to recent data released by the California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program:

  • The California LGB adult populations smoke at more than twice the rate (27.4 percent) of heterosexual California adults (12.9 percent).
  • Gay men's smoking prevalence (25.8 percent) is more than 50 percent higher than heterosexual men (16.0 percent).
  • Lesbians' smoking prevalence (24.4 percent) is two-and-a-half times higher than heterosexual women (9.8 percent).
  • Almost one-third (30.8 percent) of bisexual men and women smoke.

"The sad fact is there are still about 900,000 smokers in LA County, and smoking-related diseases cost the county about $4.3 billion per year," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "If we really want to reduce those numbers, we have to do a better job of reaching those residents with significantly higher smoking rates than the general population, such as our LGBT community."

In addition, the report showed that the LGB populations in California have a higher exposure rate to secondhand smoke, which can cause lung cancer and coronary heart disease in non-smokers:

  • Almost 40 percent (39.1 percent) of LGBs reported being often exposed to other people's tobacco smoke at places other than their homes and work-places, compared to 31.6 percent of heterosexuals.
  • More than 40 percent (40.1 percent) of LGBs indicated that they sometimes allow smoking in their homes, compared to only 23.4 percent of heterosexuals.

According to the most recent Los Angeles County Health Survey (2011):

  • The LA County LGB adult populations smoke at a rate 55 percent higher (20.6 percent) than heterosexual adults (13.3 percent).
  • The LA County bisexual adult population smokes at nearly twice the rate (25.1 percent) of heterosexual adults (13.3 percent).

Specific elements of the Break Up With Tobacco campaign will include:

  • In-bar and in-gym advertising;
  • A Break Up Squad street team providing direct interventions in and around popular nightlife venues;
  • Break Up Kit giveaways including campaign-branded underwear, condoms, lube and mints; and,
  • Personalized social media interactions, including videos featuring members of the Break Up Squad responding to users who tweet or post Instagram photos using #DoneWithYou.

LGBT individuals who currently smoke or want to help a friend or relative quit smoking can visit LastDragLA.com for information and resources about quitting, or call the California Smokers' Helpline 1-800-NO-BUTTS for free and confidential telephone counseling that has proven to double a smoker's chances of successfully quitting compared to trying it alone. The service, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and TDD/TYY, also assists those trying to quit chewing tobacco and has experts to help teens and pregnant women quit. Additional information and smoking cessation tips can be found on the LA Quits Facebook page and Twitter @LAQuits.

About Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit the YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, find Public Health on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow Public Health on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.