SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A new health campaign launched California has the goal of curbing smoking. While that goal may be nothing new, the target audience is.
To combat what has been called a full-on-crisis in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the “Break-Up With Tobacco” campaign focuses on changing habits, especially among the group’s younger demographic.
“With 18- to 24-year-olds, for example, those who identify as LGBT are smoking at a rate in California at 44 percent,” said Bob Gordon, the project director for the San Francisco-based California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership.
Other age groups in the state’s LGBT community aren’t faring any better.
“For lesbians, for example, those who are over 18 are smoking at nearly triple the rate of all women in California,” Gordon said.
Gordon said there are several causes for the high numbers. Smoking has been a part of the LGBT community for a long time and is commonly used as a social tool for meeting people.
“Alcohol and tobacco— it’s been like peanut butter and jelly for the gay community,” he said.
Social smoking aside, stress also plays a role. For rural-living LGBT people, something as simple as lack of access to help is a problem. It’s estimated 70 percent of all smokers say they would like to quit if they could find a way.
Overall, California has the second-lowest smoking rate in the U.S. with Utah having the lowest.