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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Proclamations of the Red Queen

1st March 2009

Extinguishing LGBT Smoking

Posted by: Craig Young

One of the annoying things about the undercapacity of LGBT professional social services researchers in this country is the lack of hard local data about important health issues. For example, take that perennial issue, smoking.

Has LGBT smoking decreased since the Smokefree Environments Act forced hardened unregenerate nicotine addicts out into the darkness, to grit, gnash their teeth and glower at the nice cosy staff and LGBT non-smokers indoors? And what causes it, anyway? Is it a standard short-term response to homophobic stressors? Is it decreasing as the recession bites, domestic disposable income trends downwards, and the relative cost of indulging one’s addiction increases? Is it seen as a marker of adulthood for LGBT adolescents? How do takatapui and fa’afafine respond to Maori and Pacific Island content antismoking programmes? And where are LGBT-oriented antismoking programmes, for that matter?

Like eating disorders, depression and other ancillary health concerns, LGBT smoking tends to take second place to issues like HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and substance abuse. However, that’s not the case overseas, where there are abundant resources for LGBT smokers who want to quit the habit. LGBT smokers may turn unpleasantly libertarian and defiantly light up anyway, even if it increases their long-term likelihood of developing respiratory and cardiovascular problems in later life.

Does its earlier adoption have something to do with internalised oppression? Did we smoke like chimneys because we internalised messages that our lives were worth less, so indulging short-term problematic behaviour didn’t matter, anyway?  In which case, as greater LGBT employment and social network opportunities have increased, LGBT smoking should have decreased. However, is smoking related to role modelling more than anything else? Do LGBT smokers repeat parental patterns, or those of influential LGBT role models?  Are there many lesbian specific antismoking programmes on offer within feminist women’s health services? What about HIV/AIDS prevention as a site for getting gay men off the cancer sticks?

Put simply, we still don’t know. We need to find out. Smoking is a potentially fatal long-term addiction. Why should we let nicotine poisoning continue to eat away at lesbian and gay bodies?


LGBT Tobacco:

Gay Smokeout:

Tags: General

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Darryl Mitteldorf, LCSW // Mar 2, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    We at the national LGBT Cancer Project, Out With Cancer, thank you for this timely blog post. LGBT smoking is often cited as elevated, without credible evidence or understanding. Still, even one smoker is too many. Fueling a host of health problems, and filling the coffers of many anti gay corporate officers, tobacco smoking is simply a habit our community should be leading in dropping.
    Darryl Mitteldorf, LCSW
    Executive Director
    Out With Cancer, Inc.
    our nation’s leading LGBT cancer survivor support and advocacy nonprofit.

  • 2 Kay // Mar 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I don’t know why so many gay men and other LGBTI people continue to smoke. Yes, cigarettes are addictive, but people from our communities seem to smoke more than others too. And if people smoke because of stress, what is going to happen to smoking and drinking levels with the recession? Will the cost put people off or will they switch to roll your owns?

    Many licensed venues - like Club Ivy in Wellington -are keen to get and keep smokers’ patronage. So much so that the management of Club Ivy ripped out a wall of the 1st floor bar to create a covered smoking space. There must be enough money in supporting the addiction to run the risk of what looks like a breach of the SmokeFree Act. But then ignoring inconvenient laws is part of our history too.

    I’ve lost 2 aunts and one gay cousin to lung cancer from smoking, and I’m sure many visitors to this website have lost family and friends too. I hate the ease with which mainstream society persuades some of us to kill ourselves slowly.

  • 3 Richard Howard // Mar 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    My mother died 4 weeks ago of lung cancer - a mass the size of a tennis ball in her left lung. She was 82 years old. She smoked defiantly until she died (from the age of 15). She knew it was bad for her but she said that she loved it, it relaxed her.

    The effects on her body and life were catastrophic, including dementia in latter years as the capillaries in her brain gave up under the constant attack of poison. There was no dissuading her.

    Mum didn’t particularly want to die (and lived a long life) but certainly did not see death as a deterrent against the enormous pleasures and relaxation benefits of smoking. Therein is the difficulty.

    People choose their pleasures, their poisons and addictions. They make their deals with their own bodies and their lives.

    There would not be a person in this country who does not know and understand at some level that smoking and taking other kinds of drugs is at best risky and at worst leads to an agonising death. Hell it is is written on every cigarette pack, its on the TV.

    People, including homo people choose the known. They knowing choose to gamble with their health and their lives. They are adults , not children. Inform them and offer them alternative options if you wish but they are not asking to be saved.

    Life has its survivors and then there is everyone else.

    P.s I abhor smoking - just it out of my lung space!

  • 4 bikerchick // Mar 11, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    Cancer sux……!


  • 5 Blair // Mar 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Yes yes we have all heard the arguments and agree with them in principal but I smoke because I want to.. I have lost family & friends to cancer but the fact is you could get hit by a bus or a runaway drag queen tomorrow so you may as well go out doing something you enjoy…

    It’s all about choice…

  • 6 Craig Young // Mar 14, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    How can anything that relies on manipulative marketing and addition of addictive chemical compounds be conceived as a ‘choice?’ And
    I’ve lost two grandparents to smoking related
    cardio conditions and lung cancer. None of my
    family smoke, and I’ve never even been tempted
    to start.


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