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Sexual Minority Youth Show Higher Prevalence of Tobacco Use Than Heterosexual Peers

3/27/2017
Lesbian and bisexual girls were more likely to report use of tobacco products than their heterosexual counterparts, according to a study of data collected in the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The study, “Tobacco Product Use Among Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents,” will be published in the April 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online March 27). Of 14,703 teenagers who responded to the survey, 88.8 percent were heterosexual or straight; 2 percent were lesbian or gay; 6 percent bisexual; and 3.2 percent were unsure about their sexual identity. Evidence suggests that sexual minority adults smoke at substantially higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts, but less has been known about youth, according to the author. The study found that, overall, lesbian and gay adolescents reported the highest rate of current use of any tobacco product (40.5 percent); followed by bisexual teens (38.5 percent); and unsure teens (32.2 percent; as compared to their straight peers, (29.6 percent). The author suggests that the association between sexual orientation and tobacco use could be due to social stigma, social isolation, family rejection, discrimination and emotional abuse. She suggests that public health agencies develop tobacco prevention and intervention strategies that are tailored to LGBT youth.

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