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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Intragroup Variance in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Tobacco Use Behaviors: Evidence That Subgroups Matter, Notably Bisexual Women.

  • Author(s): Emory, Kristen
  • Kim, Yoonsang
  • Buchting, Francisco
  • Vera, Lisa
  • Huang, Jidong
  • Emery, Sherry L
  • et al.

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Emerging evidence suggests bisexual populations are at increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes, including tobacco use. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations are at increased risk for cigarette smoking, but research on LGB subpopulations' use of tobacco products beyond cigarettes and tobacco use differences across LGB subgroups is in its infancy. This study explores differences in use of tobacco products across LGB subgroups, including gender differences among bisexuals.

This study reports results from a 2013 nationally-representative cross-sectional online survey of US adults (N = 17 087). Weighted tobacco use prevalence and adjusted logistic regression results are reported.

LGB populations reported higher current use of any tobacco product (35.7%) and current use of cigarettes (32.0%), e-cigarettes (8.9%), regular (5.5%) and small cigars (11.6%), compared with non-LGB. Bisexual (odds ratio [OR] = 2.6, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.7-3.9) and lesbian (OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.0-2.7) women have higher odds of any tobacco use than heterosexual women; including greater odds of regular (OR = 2.9, 95% CI: 1.2-7.0 and OR = 2.2, 95% CI: 1.3-3.9; respectively) and small cigar use (OR = 2.4, 95% CI: 1.4-4.1 and OR = 3.2, 95% CI: 2.0-5.1; respectively). Gay men had lower odds of cigar use (OR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.2-0.8) than heterosexual men.

This is the first US adult population study to assess differences in use of various tobacco products across adult LGB subpopulations and by gender, confirming their increased risk of use and illuminating differences by subgroup and gender. Exploring LGB as a unified population appears inadequate to accurately characterize LGB tobacco use risk. Tobacco-related LGB health inequities, particularly among bisexual and lesbian women, may be greater than previously indicated.

This manuscript provides important contributions to the field of tobacco control and prevention, and more specifically to LGB tobacco-related health disparities research. This is among the first population level studies to explore various tobacco use across LGB populations and across genders, comparing results to non-LGB populations in a national study. We provide novel evidence that bisexual women in particular, have a higher risk for use of various tobacco products, compared with other LGB subpopulations. In order to address this disparity, tobacco control professionals need to be made aware of these important differences in tobacco use behavior.

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