As smoking rates are plummeting in Britain, research shows that seven out of ten LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke regularly, casually or formally.
The market researchers and content creation specialists of Queer Voices Heard recently released a study where they found that being queer does not cause people to start smoking but it does keep them on it.
Stu Hosker the co-founder of Queer Voices Heard says, “In our study, we found that there are far more triggers to sustain smoking as an LGBT+ person, but very few triggers to help them quit.”
LGBTQ+ people are 46 percent more likely to smoke
According to the study, people from the community are 46 percent more likely to smoke than people outside the community. This is mostly due to the fact that the queer people are more often than not, excluded from rigorous campaigns that try to corrode the interest in smoking.
They hence have fewer incentives to quit once the habit has developed. That is because seven out of 10 people felt that the campaigns actually are directed at them, are more focused more on sexual health rather than anything else.
“Many don’t see themselves authentically represented in quit smoking campaigns.”
Hosker says, “Some mentioned the reliance on shock tactics around the impact smoking has on fertility and families with young children, and how this doesn’t feel relevant to many smokers within the LGBT+ community.”
LGBTQ+ people say that cigarettes release stress
It has been known that LGBTQ+ people experience a wide range of social, economic and health issues. This is mostly due to their constant struggle of being felt included in the society. Moreover, certain cultures and laws often fuel these issues and treat them as lesser human beings. The participants also saw their sexuality and gender identity tangled in cigarettes. This finding did not shock researchers.
Dr. Christian Jessen said, “The reasons for this are complex, but considering that members of the LGBT+ community are more prone to stress, anxiety and generally poorer mental health and depression, self-medication using nicotine or other substances is commonplace and unsurprising.”
England and Wales have seen anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes double in the past few years. These hate crimes raise a specter of violence against the community who are still fighting for rights and social acceptance.
The study says that cigarettes offer queer people a kind of stress release. It also gives them an opportunity to make a meaningful connection.
Half of the participants who took part in the study felt that smoking plays an important part in the community. Out of which one third agreed that smoking was seen as a rebellious act that helped enforce their LGBTQ+ identity.
Mental health gatekeepers say that we need to spread more awareness about the LGBTQ+ people and provide more tailored resources to queer people.
Hosker said, “More positive portrayals of LGBT+ people in the media are crucial”. He also added, “Of course, this isn’t a zeitgeist of ‘queer culture’ that everyone ascribes to in the LGBTQ+ community, however, there is a perception of an association with pop culture references which often chime with LGBTQ+ smokers.”
There are many LGBTQ+ smokers who identify with characters who smoke in movies and television shows as well. For example Patsy and Eddie smoke in Ab Fab. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal smoke around the campfire in Brokeback Mountain. Nathan Moloney smokes a cigarette before walking onto the Canal Street for the first time in Queer As Folk.
Movies make a huge impact on viewers when it comes to smoking and drinking. And it is no different when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community.