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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: California has a large lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population. While anecdotal evidence suggested that LGBTs smoke at higher rates than the general population, the lack of prevalence studies made it difficult to get attention for tobacco control. This presentation will describe the successful fifteen-year effort to make California an international leader in LGBT tobacco control, serving as a resource for this population worldwide.
Methods: A small group of LGBT tobacco control advocates formed a community-based organization to speak out on the dangers of tobacco within the LGBT community, raising the issue in editorials, letter-writing campaigns, and speaking engagements. Panelists will discuss tactics used and obstacles encountered in initiating the first population-based study that confirmed the high rates of gay male tobacco use; inaugurating the first cessation program dedicated to LGBT and HIV-positive smokers; pressuring a national LGBT organization to end its partnership with Big Tobacco; developing LGBT-specific statewide anti-tobacco ads; mobilizing the community to support local clean indoor air campaigns; lobbying successfully to have California recognize LGBTs as an underserved population for tobacco control; and partnering with others to obtain grants for ongoing tobacco control and research efforts.
Results: By focusing on two fronts, raising awareness among LGBTs of tobacco hazards, and raising awareness among tobacco control advocates of LGBT needs, activists launched the LGBT tobacco control movement. Lessons learned include the effectiveness of a small group of dedicated individuals, the importance of establishing ties between tobacco control and LGBTs, and an understanding of what makes this community culturally unique.