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Tobacco companies target the LGBT community

Submitted Lyndsay Stover, Ravalli County Tobacco Prevention Specialist

Each year tobacco kills more people than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, murder, illegal drug use, and fires combined. Tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death, killing 600,000 people in the U.S. and 1,400 Montanans each year.

The tobacco industry spends approximately $15.4 billion a year on advertising, aggressively targeting minority populations including youth, people with lower incomes, women, Native Americans, African Americans, and the mentally ill.

The tobacco industry is well aware that their products will kill 1 in 3 people, but they continue to market their deadly, addictive products to those who are most vulnerable in society and manipulate people into a lifetime of addiction and eventual disease.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 30,000 people in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community are killed every year by the tobacco industry. The American Lung Association found that LGBT people are at higher risk of tobacco use and have one of the highest tobacco use rates compared to the population as a whole.

Tobacco companies use forceful marketing tactics, offer corporate sponsorship, and develop media campaigns that operate off the social stress of living in a world that has historically ostracized gay people.

These killer corporations advertise topics that are important to the LGBT community including, individualism, freedom, independence, social success, inclusion and acceptance. The advertisements give gay people the impression that the tobacco industry whole-heartedly supports the legitimization and approval of the LGBT community.

One tobacco advertisement, found in a magazine read predominately by the gay community stated, “Whenever someone yells, Dude, that’s so gay, we’ll be there,” creating a perception that the tobacco industry cares about the LGBT people, is concerned about their well-being, and will stand up for them in a time of need.

The truth is, the tobacco industry is not really worried about the health and happiness of the gay community, nor any other group in society for that matter. What the tobacco industry really does care about is recruiting “replacements” to guarantee the financial stability of the tobacco industry, due to the large amount of people who die from tobacco use and/or quit each year.

If you would like more information on how to support the LGBT community the PFLAG program/support group is every third Thursday at 7:00 pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  This month’s program on June 20th at 7:00 p.m. is in the community basement room in St. Paul’s Church at 600 S. Third St. in Hamilton. Find PFLAG on Facebook and visit our website at

If you use tobacco products and want to quit, call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). It is a free telephone-based service where you will receive expert counseling from trained tobacco addiction specialists. You can also receive free nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges and could be eligible for discounted tobacco cessation medication.

For more information, call Tobacco Free Ravalli at 375-6573.

Lyndsay Stover, Tobacco Prevention Specialist

Ravalli County


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