'Alarming' smoking rates in LGBT communities cause for concern
LGBT health advocates have expressed concern on the alarming smoking rates among LGBT communities.
Successive surveys continue to show that the rate of smoking in LGBT communities is more than double those of the general population.
The current smoking rate in the general population is around 16 per cent, which is way below compared to LGBT communities.
Around 34 per cent of gay men were current smokers, according to the 2011 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.
The SWASH survey, which samples lesbians and other same sex attracted women every two years in NSW, shows smoking rates of around 35% on average across the four surveys from 2006 to 2012.
In the trans community, 35 per cent of trans women and 44 per cent of trans men were current smokers, according to the 2006 Private Lives Study.
And mong HIV-positive people, there was a smoking prevalence of 30 per cent, according to the 2013 HIV Futures 7 study.
Speaking to mark World No Tobacco Day (May 31), ACON Director of Policy, Planning & Research Alan Brotherton said the figures were “alarming”.
“We need to better understand why these rates are so high, and why mainstream tobacco control nitiatives appear to have had such a limited impact on our communities,” Brotherton said.
“Unfortunately, to date there hasn’t been much research on this issue, but the limited studies available suggest LGBT people just don’t rate smoking as an important health issue, or that there are other more pressing issues, such as anxiety, depression, family and relationships. There are even some studies that suggest it’s seen as a positive expression of LGBT identity.
“Whatever the reasons, we do know that smoking is a major health risk, as well as a major cost, for many people. We need to do more to support our friends, partners and communities to reduce our rates of smoking,” Brotherton said.
ACON will launch a health promotion strategy in July which aims to address the issue.
For more on quitting smoking, go to www.icanquit.com.au.
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