LGBT+ history month began in 2003 to coincide with the abolishing of section 28, and is celebrated every year in the month of February in the UK. Section 28, also known as clause 28 was a series of laws across the UK that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities.
This law was passed in 1983 by Margaret Thatcher and was inspired by a book called "Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin'.
Whether you are part of the LGBT+ community yourself or know someone in it, you might not be aware of the many health concerns that affect LGBT+ people including the increased likelihood of smoking cigarettes.
So we have decided to bring attention to this important month, and celebrate the abolishing of section 28 and the LGBT+ community as a whole by spreading awareness of health concerns that disproportionately affect LGBT+ people like smoking.
In this article we will discuss:
What is LGBT+ history month?
LGBT+ Community and Smoking
LGBT+ Community and Vaping
Supporting LGBT+ Young people
What is LGBT+ History Month?
LGBT history month is an annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and non-binary history that starts at the beginning of February. During this time the LGBT community and allies use the month to celebrate the stopping of section 28. Similarly to pride events, LGBT history month is a celebration of freedom and the accomplishment of civil rights, as well as raising awareness of the issues and health concerns facing LGBT people.
LGBT+ Community and Smoking
There is nothing about being gay, or having a trans-gender identity that inherently makes you more susceptible to diseases, but certain societal factors that often come with being part of the LGBT+ community can contribute to health.
The aids epidemic was particularly prevalent in gay men during the 1980s and 1990s, which affected stars like Freddie Mercury, this was due to misinformation, stigma and lack of education around sexual health for the LGBT+ community.
The LGBT+ community also tend to have higher rates of increased tobacco use. Around 1 in every 5 lesbian, gay and bisexual adults use tobacco cigarettes, and when it comes to transgender adults it can be as high as 1 in 3. There are a number of contributing factors why people in general smoke, but for LGBT+ people the stigma and prejudice that this group may face can add to the increased likelihood of picking up cigarettes.
Smoking can be a symbol of independence, and some gay and trans people may work in the nightlife that can be associated with smoking, drugs and alcohol.
A recent report stated that LGBT+ people are more likely to smoke, smoke more heavily and start smoking at a younger age.
LGBT+ Community and Vaping
The tobacco industry can clearly be a detriment to the LGBT+ community. Vaping is the best way for people to quit smoking, e-cigarettes offer disease control and contain less harmful toxins than cigarettes.
Recently Public Health England and the NHS have shown their support for vaping over smoking, and time and time again vaping has proved to help people stop smoking for good.
Quitting Smoking before age 40 reduces the risks of dying from smoking-related disease by 90% therefore vaping can increase life expectancy for these groups.
LGBT+ smokers are more likely to suffer from mental health issues due to discrimination and lack of support, and smoking cessation can reduce depression and improve quality of life. So, we think it's important to encourage people in these communities to quit for good.
Supporting LGBT+ Young People
We do not encourage anyone under 18 to start vaping, vaping is strictly for adults over the age of 18.
Some young trans people and gay people, may not have a traditional support network from their families, this may lead to increased stress, lack of resources and ultimately substance abuse and smoking addictions.
If you are in the LGBT+ community, it's important to remember you are not alone, reach out to friends, family members and organisations you trust for support.
There are also a number of LGBT+ charities and LGBT+ support groups, that are dedicated to helping people in these communities.
We value the quality of life in all people and encourage adults to try vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking.
Tips To Help You Quit:
- Replace it - the sensation of smoking can be as addictive as the nicotine, replacing cigarettes with something less harmful like vaping, can make the transition smoother.
- Nicotine replacement - Vaping with high nicotine e-liquid can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Quit Together - having someone to quit with can be encouraging, you don't have to do this alone. The vaping community is very open to discussing their stories and how vaping helped them quit, don't be afraid to join forums and reach out.
- Keep Busy - Give yourself something to concentrate on, a new hobby can distract and relax you.
- Keep a Diary - write down your cravings, seeing them reduce over time can be helpful.
- Keep Your Hands and Mouth Busy- smoking can be psychological. Keeping your hands and mouth busy by chewing gum, or being creative, may help you reduce the physical discomfort.
- Change What You Drink - Certain drinks like wine, soda and coffee compliments smoking, drinking juice and water can make smoking less appealing.
- Celebrate - Recognize the small victories along the way that lead to larger ones.
- Change Your Lifestyle - having an overall healthy lifestyle can keep you in the habit of quitting and finding new ways to unwind can give you a new outlet for relaxation.
- Don't Give Up - even if you relapse the more quit attempts you make, the more likely you'll stick with it for good.
If you are part of this community and want to find support here are some useful links that could help:
Whether or not you are part of this community, it's important to support each other in any way you can. Share your story with us below.