In the coming new year, the Utah Pride Center is hoping to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer smokers kick the habit with the help of a savvy new ad campaign and an agency known for creating Utah’s premier anti-smoking campaign.
The center’s anti-tobacco campaign is part of its Health and Wellness Program, which offers programming on topics ranging from women’s health, HIV prevention and social empowerment. Smoking cessation has long been on the Center’s radar because lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people use tobacco at higher rates than their straight, non-transgender counterparts. For example, an American Lung Association study released this summer found that queer men were 2.5 times as likely, and queer women twice as likely, to smoke than straight people.
“We’ve known that this has been an issue in our community for a long time,” Jennifer Nuttall, then-director of Adult Programs at the Center, told the Deseret News in June.
The Center is not the only such organization to offer anti-tobacco programming for members of the community — the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center bans smoking on its premises, and CenterLink, the umbrella organization for LGBT Community Centers to which the Utah Pride Center belongs, has published anti-tobacco literature in the past. However, the Center is one of the few in the country to receive grant money from a state health department to lower smoking rates among the community it serves.
One of the first programs the Center plans on unrolling with money from the Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s five-year grant is a series of posters and cards featuring local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults who don’t smoke. To do so, they’re being assisted by Love Communications, the advertising agency behind the TRUTH Campaign, the Utah movement behind a number of television anti-smoking commercials.
Brett Hodson, account coordinator at Love Communications, said that the campaign is using local non-smokers to make its campaign “more realistic.” To further help smokers know that they can find help quitting, Hodson said that the campaign will feature “quick cards,” that will feature a picture of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning individual on one side and fast facts about tobacco on the other.
“Each demographic will have its own identifiable card with appropriate tobacco messaging,” Hodson explained, noting that the card for lesbians would, for example, have statistics about lesbian tobacco use as opposed to information about another group’s smoking rates.
The photos, he said, will also appear on cloth posters which will hold pins with anti-smoking messages that individuals can take and attach to jackets or bags.
Hodson added that Love Communications would also work with the Center on future anti-tobacco measures.
While the high smoking rate among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer U.S. Americans is not attributable to one cause, tobacco companies have placed ads in publications geared toward the community for over a decade. In 2003, the American Journal of Public Health released a case study examining tobacco giant Philip Morris’ first foray into advertising cigarettes to the gay male community.
“Tobacco companies target a variety of demographics and the LGBTQ community is one of those,” said Hodson.
Further, high substance abuse rates among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans has also been called a coping mechanism to deal with homophobia and transphobia.
A date has not yet been set for the anti-tobacco photo shoot, though Hodson said that the Center was looking at early January. For more information or to express interest in participating contact Makeda Meeks at 801-539-8800 ex. 18 or [email protected].