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Tobacco Use
By Joanna Sickler


Education and outreach geared to the lesbian population needs to be formulated and implemented.  Interventions need to target high-risk groups such as poor lesbians1 and those who experience high levels of stress.2
 Talking Points:
  • Data varies but there is ample evidence that lesbians smoke at a significantly higher rate than heterosexual women.  For example the Womens Health Initiative indicates that twice as many lesbians were reported to be heavy smokers compared to heterosexual women (6.8% of heterosexual women and 7.4% of mature lesbians versus 3.5% of heterosexual women).3

  • Smoking increases lesbians risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.4

  • This increased rate has been attributed to the higher levels of psychosocial stress that lesbians experience but the issue warrants further study.2


  1. Krieger, N., Rowley, D., Herman, A., Avery B., & Phillips, M. (1993). Racism, sexism, and social class: Implications for studies of health, disease and well-being.  American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 9(6,suppl), 82-122.

  2. Borrelli, B.; Bock, T.; et al. (1996). The impact of depression on smoking cessation in women.  American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 12(5), 378-387.

  3. Solarz, A. (ed). (1999). Lesbian health: current assessment and directions for the future. Committee on lesbian health research priorities, the Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, p56-57.

  4. Chen, V.W. (1993). Smoking and the health gap in minorities. Annals of Epidemiology, 3(2), 159-164.

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