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Tips Campaign Matte Article for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Communities

This prewritten matte article about the Tips from Former Smokers campaign is ready for adaptation and use by journalists, bloggers, and other members of the media.

Emotional Ads Show Smoking's Toll in LGBT Communities

CDC's Tips From Former Smokers Campaign Encourages Smokers in the LGBT Communities to Quit

Like many smokers, Brian was a teenager when he picked up his first cigarette. Smoking seemed daring to him—a symbol of freedom and independence. When he was 20, Brian started living openly as a gay man and discovered that smoking seemed to be everywhere he went in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. People were even smoking on the dance floor at clubs. By then, Brian was smoking a pack a day, and cigarettes had nothing to do with freedom. His addiction to cigarettes now controlled him.

Everyone knows that smoking increases the risk for lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and other smoking-related diseases.1 But many people do not know that smoking is especially dangerous for those who are living with HIV. Brian had already beaten tough health problems—including being very sick with AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)—but he had not quit smoking, even though he tried many times. At age 43, Brian had a blood clot in his lungs, a stroke, and surgery on an artery in his neck.

"It took a stroke for me to actually stop smoking," said Brian. For months after the stroke, Brian couldn't work or even dress himself. Today, his right hand is still weak, so he can no longer work as a waiter or teach pottery classes.

Ellie never smoked cigarettes but worked in smoke-filled bars that served the LGBT communities. When she was in her mid-thirties, Ellie started having asthma attacks. After several hospital visits and with the help of her doctor, Ellie realized her asthma attacks were triggered by people smoking where she worked. She was forced to choose between her health or keeping her job that she loved. Ellie chose her health. Today, Ellie works in a smoke-free environment. "Everyone deserves to work in a smokefree workplace," she says.

Brian and Ellie, both members of the LGBT communities, are featured in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign. The Tips campaign shows the harsh reality of the health problems linked to smoking. Their ads will be placed in LGBT-focused magazines and on Internet sites that reach LGBT communities.

Smoking, Stress, and Marketing in LGBT Communities

Smoking rates are high in LGBT communities.2 In 2012–2013, 27.7% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals smoked, compared with 17.3% of heterosexual/straight individuals.3

This high rate may be partly due to the stress related to prejudices and stigma that members of the LGBT communities can face on a daily basis. It may also be because tobacco companies aggressively market tobacco products to LGBT communities, spending millions to place tobacco ads in LGBT magazines and newspapers and on Web sites of interest to this population.4

"The tobacco industry has established a presence in the LGBT communities that is dangerous and deadly. The higher smoking rates mean more members of these communities are experiencing more smoking-related diseases—claiming many more LGBT lives," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "CDC is dedicated to reducing smoking rates in the LGBT communities."

Evaluation results of the 2012 Tips From Former Smokers campaign were published on September 9, 2013, in the medical journal, The Lancet. They indicated that:5

  • An estimated 1.6 million Americans tried to quit smoking because of the campaign.
  • At least 100,000 smokers are expected to stay quit for good.
  • An estimated 6 million nonsmokers talked with friends and family about the dangers of smoking, and an estimated 4.7 million additional nonsmokers recommended cessation services to their friends and family.

"Smoking is something that you do have control over," Brian said. "You can stop. And it's worth your life to stop smoking."

For more information about the Tips campaign and resources for quitting smoking, visit For help quitting, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010 [accessed 2014 Aug 12].
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health [accessed 2014 Aug 12].
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Product Use Among Adults — United States, 2012–2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2014;63(25):542–547 [accessed 2014 August 12].
  4. King BA, Dube SR, Tynan MA. Current Tobacco Use Among Adults in the United States: Findings from the National Adult Tobacco Survey. American Journal of Public Health 2012 Nov;102(11):e93–e100 [cited 2014 Aug 12].
  5. McAfee T, Davis KC, Alexander RL, Pechacek TF, Bunnel R. Effect of the First Federally Funded US Antismoking National Media Campaign. The Lancet 2013 Sep 9. Epub ahead of print. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61686-4 [accessed 2014 Aug 12].