FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Efrat Stein, 747-9805
In recognition of the 2012 National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health Awareness Week, designated as this week March 26, 2012 – March 30, 2012, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is working to raise awareness about tobacco use in the LGBT community that align with this year’s theme “Come Out for Health.”
Studies show that overall 34% of the LGB population are smokers, significantly higher compared to 18% for the mainstream population. Lesbians and gay are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than their heterosexual counterparts. Bisexual woman are up to three and a half times more likely to be smokers than heterosexual woman.
“Reducing tobacco use in the LGBT population is an important priority toward reducing the toll of tobacco related illness and death,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Tobacco Use is one of the top health priorities outlined in Healthy Chicago, Chicago’s public health agenda that aims to make Chicago the healthiest city in the nation. One overarching goal is to reduce the morbidity related to tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke.
Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death in Chicago. Chicagoans smoke at a higher rate than the national average - almost one in four adults regularly smoke in Chicago. For each tobacco related death, another 20 people struggle with serious tobacco related illnesses such as lung disease. Second hand smoke adds to preventable health problems as well, including heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma and others.
Reasons for higher smoking rates among LBGT communities are complex but studies have shown that sexual orientation and gender identity minorities start smoking at a younger age. Other reasons include targeted tobacco industry advertising, increased stress and limited access to healthcare.
Smoking cessation help is available by calling the Illinois’ Tobacco Quit line. 1-866-QUIT –YES (1-866-784-8937). The Quitline is confidential and offers trained professionals to help you quit smoking and can even connect you with resources such as smoking cessation programs. The Howard Brown Health Center, a grant-funded partner of the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project, delivers group smoking cessation programs targets to the LGBT community, to help people quit smoking. Classes are offered on an ongoing basis. Click here for ongoing classes at the Howard Brown Health Center.
For information about LGBT Health, please click here.