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2006 LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) TOBACCO SURVEY

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In June 2006, the New Mexico Department of Health, Stop Tobacco on My People and the University of New Mexico Health Evaluation and Research Team conducted a tobacco survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. This population has been identified as experiencing tobacco-related health disparities in the NM Tobacco-Related Disparities Strategic Plan, 2005-2010. The convenience sample survey was conducted at Pride events in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. A total of 471 people completed the survey, 88% of whom identified as LGBT. The purpose of the survey was to gain new knowledge for improved tobacco prevention and cessation programming efforts for LGBT people; therefore, analyses that follow are limited to the LGBT participants.

CONCLUSIONS

These survey results provide important details about smoking behaviors and beliefs as well as attitudes regarding secondhand smoke among LGBT people in New Mexico. LGBT people appear to smoke at much higher rates than their straight counterparts, but a majority of LGBT smokers surveyed want to quit. These results are comparable to other surveys of LGB populations. Compared to straight people, LGBT people are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke, but in some instances, are more likely to support certain smoke-free venues. Only about one-third of LGBT people are aware that smoking rates for LGBT people are significantly higher than for the straight population.
Focus group data collected in Spring 2005 indicate that LGBT people may also be at higher risk for other negative health outcomes. Some possible explanations for these health disparities include: internal and societal stresses associated with sexual orientation and gender identity as well as depression, inadequate access to health care, targeted advertising of alcohol and tobacco products, and lack of population-specific health interventions.
These findings highlight the need for more educational efforts in the LGBT population regarding high smoking rates, quitting methods, and the health hazards of smoking and secondhand smoke. The Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program and STOMP—Stop Tobacco on My People, the statewide tobacco disparities network, have already begun some activities to increase awareness of tobacco issues and have built some capacity to deliver LGBT-specific cessation services. A better understanding of this community, such as that gained through this survey and other methods, allows for the development and delivery of more effective tobacco use prevention and cessation services for LGBT New Mexicans.

METHODS OVERVIEW

Fifteen LGBT people and straight allies underwent a two-hour survey administrator training, which included background information on the need for LGBT tobacco data, random and diverse selection of survey participants at Pride events, and role-playing exercises for administering the survey. Ten hand-held personal display assistants—PDAs (PalmOne Tungsten®) were used for electronic data collection. Pendragon®survey software was used to import the survey instrument into the PDAs, as well as for data collection. Survey administrators performed data entry while they conducted the in-person survey. The 15-question survey took between three and five minutes to administer.
Surveyors were paid for their training time and received a set fee per completed survey. Survey participants received small tokens of appreciation (i.e., strands of Mardi Gras beads or “Blow Bubbles Not Smoke” bottles) and were asked to wear a rainbow sticker with the wording “I’ve Been Palmed” to indicate that they had already been surveyed.

Data from all ten PDAs was synched onto a desktop computer using survey software. Data was then transferred into a spreadsheet format and analyzed using STATA® data analysis software.

Special thanks are extended to the NC Department of Health for sharing information regarding their survey methodology and experiences in conducting a similar survey.

 

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