Why the LGBT Community Smokes – Even HIV+ People!


It isn’t any secret that smoking cigarettes is bad for you. However, that doesn’t seem to stop them from being popular. Even today, when pharmacies such as CVS have stopped selling cigarettes due to their health hazards, many people continue to smoke. The LGBT community in particular has a very high number of smokers.

The American Lung Association claims that LGBT people smoke more due to stress in their lives. Although America has been making strides lately towards equality for the LGBT community, they are still at a distinct disadvantage in our society. There are stigmas and prejudices that make things harder for these people both socially and economically.

The American Lung Association explains, “It is the stress of these social stigmas that can often push people to smoke. Among LGBT youth, stress due to homelessness, coming out at an early age, rejection by family and peers and discrimination are among the most frequently cited reasons for smoking”. This is the main reason that cigarette consumption is so common amongst this group. Smoking is a coping mechanism for negative emotions, and with so much riding against these people they have no shortage of stress, sadness, and anxiety. 

Although HIV+ people are well aware that they need to take especially good care of their body, sometimes their perceived need for a cigarette is even greater than this awareness. HIV+ people who smoke need a way to cope with the stress of their illness, sexuality, relationships, and just the normal tough parts of life. For many people, smoking is how they were taught to cope when they were younger. 

As a society, we need to step forward and provide more constructive options for society as a whole, but the LGBT society in particular, to use to cope with stress. What do you do to cope when you really just wish you could have a cigarette?