An Analysis of Tobacco Industry Marketing to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Populations: Strategies for Mainstream Tobacco Control and Prevention

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Abstract

Research on adult tobacco use consistently shows a higher prevalence among lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transgender (LGBT) populations than among the gen eral population—reasons why are largely unknown, and counterstrategies are critical. Tobacco industry marketing, uncovered when the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) forced companies to share its inter nal documents, provided insight. The American Legacy Foundation uncovered the industry campaign Project SCUM (Sub-Culture Urban Marketing) aimed at gays and the homeless. The formerly secret documents revealed specific marketing toward LGBT, whose rates increased when the MSA banned youth (but not other population) advertising. The industry reaches out to LGBT persons through direct and indirect advertising, community outreach, and sponsorships. Messages to LGBT have been relatively absent from advertising until recently, creating receptivity to such overtures. Reduc ing LGBT smoking rates is a public health challenge that will require exceeding the sense of validation tobacco advertising has created in LGBT communities.

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