Could not authenticate you.followers
It was just never meant to be — I mean, I’m a Pisces, and you’re cancerous.
Breaking up is hard to do, but Los Angeles County health officials and local leaders are hopeful that a new marketing campaign will help LGBT individuals kick Big Tobacco out of their lives — for good.
Using phrases such as, “Sorry, it’s not me, it’s you,” and “Get your butt out of my life,” the campaign is targeting members of the LGBT community, who have much higher smoking rates than their heterosexual counterparts.
“I think we can all acknowledge that we have some work to do around smoking,” West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land said last Thursday, when officials announced the campaign at Eleven Nightclub. “There’s been so much work in the community around gay people’s rights and equal benefits and the right for everyone to marry, but there are still huge health disparities.”
She said cigarette smoking is one of the city’s biggest health issues, as the LGBT community smokes at two times the rate as their heterosexual counterparts.
“And smoking is bad. It has horrible health outcomes,” Land said, also mentioning the effects of second-hand smoke. “We have to do more to make our community safer.”
She referenced the city’s law that disallows smoking in outdoor dining areas and other public places.
“That’s a step. Our laws could be stronger,” Land said, adding that “study after study” shows there’s really no economic impact on businesses that adopt good smoking policies.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District, said one out of every five deaths in the U.S. each year is caused by tobacco use, and smoking-related illnesses cost the county approximately $4.3 billion annually.
“We’re here today because tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and illness in our society,” he said, adding that 900,000 people in L.A. County smoke.
Yaroslavsky cited several statistics related to members of the LGBT community and smoking. California’s lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adult populations smoke at more than twice the rate of heterosexual California adults. Gay men’s smoking prevalence is more than 50 percent higher than heterosexual men. Lesbians’ smoking prevalence is two-and-a-half times higher than heterosexual women. Lastly, approximately one-third of bisexual men and women smoke.
“If we want to reduce those numbers and the cost we pay for it, we have to do a better job reaching those residents in our county who have generally higher smoking rates than the general population, such as the LGBT community,” Yaroslavsky said. “These statistics should not be acceptable to us, and should not be the accepted norm in LGBT communities that live in our communities.”
He said the issue could be viewed as a health justice matter, as many tobacco ads are aimed at the LGBT community.
“Tobacco companies are targeting your communities and you as individuals. They’re seeking to take advantage of you,” the supervisor said, adding that the products are advertised as sexy and cool. “Tobacco is not cool, sexy or liberating. It’s stupid, it’s unhealthy and extremely dirty. When used as directed, tobacco products kill.”
Further, smoking is a significant health issue for people with HIV, who tend to smoke more than the general population, Yaroslavsky said. He said people with HIV who smoke are less likely to continue their treatment plan and have a greater likelihood of dying.
“In other words, they die from tobacco use, not from HIV,” Yaroslavsky added.
The supervisor seemed more animated than usual as he spoke, possibly because the issue is personal to him. Yaroslavsky said he smoked two packs a day for 12 years — until May 17, 1979, when he quit “cold turkey.”
‘I came to understand that it was the most ridiculous habit that had control over me that I could imagine. It was insidious,” he said.
The supervisor said he took his pulse rate the day after he quit smoking and then again three days later. His pulse rate was down 72 beats per minute, which equated to millions of beats in his heart per year.
“By the time I did that statistical analysis, I lost my appetite for the cigarette,” Yaroslavsky added.
Dr. Jonathan Fielding, public health director and health officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said he hopes the campaign, which includes a “street team,” motivates the community to give up tobacco.
“The truth is, tobacco is killing the LGBT community. Every year, an estimated 30,000 people each year in that community die from tobacco-related illnesses, and that is simply unacceptable,” he said. “Shockingly, tobacco-related illnesses kill more people than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, auto accidents, suicides and murder combined. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. It increases the rate of cardiovascular disease and stroke, many types of cancer, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and I could go on and on.”
Fielding said the campaign will focus on nightclubs and gyms in West Hollywood, Long Beach and other areas of Los Angeles County. He said the county will deploy in-bar and in-gym ads, a break-up street team that will speak to residents near nightlife venues and break-up kit giveaways, among other things. It will also incorporate social media.
“We think this is going to be very effective because it’s relying on the community itself to help inform the messages, the outreach, the approaches we’re taking, so we’re very optimistic,” Fielding said, adding that the county will monitor the results.
Yaroslavsky said it doesn’t take billions of dollars to get people to stop smoking.
“Once individuals realize that they’re being conned — they’re being played — everybody has a certain amount of self-pride, and will stand up to somebody trying to play them,” he said. “It’s insidious and disingenuous, and people need to know that. …It’s got to stop. We can do it.”
For information and resources, such as nicotine patches, call (800)NO-BUTTS or visit www.lastdragla.com.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Leave a Reply