FDA campaign targets LGBT smokers

FDA campaign targets LGBT smokers

The Food and Drug Administration is looking to protect young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from the harms of smoking.

The FDA announced Monday a $35 million campaign aimed at preventing LGBT youth from smoking.

“We know LGBT young adults in this country are nearly twice as likely to use tobacco as other young adults,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement.

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“We want LGBT young adults to know that there is no safe amount of smoking. Even an occasional cigarette can have serious health implications and lead to addiction,” he added.

The FDA is particularly concerned about “social smokers,” who occasionally use tobacco products when they are hanging out with their friends. More than 800,000 LGBT young adults fall into this category, the agency said.

LGBT youth often turn to smoking to cope with the pressure of “coming out,” the FDA noted. Many are exposed to tobacco while they are hanging out with their friends at bars and clubs.

"They want to look good and standout,” said Kathy Crosby, director of health communication and education at the FDA.

"They don’t see themselves as smokers, even though they know they are often enjoying cigarettes out on the weekends with friends,” she added.

The FDA’s campaign will explain that the practice of “social smoking” is also dangerous and can lead to tobacco addiction.

“I’ve lost too many people to HIV in my life, and I don’t want to lose anymore due to tobacco use,” said Richard Wolitski, acting director of the office for HIV/AIDS and infectious disease policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, who is helping spearhead the campaign for the FDA.