More anti-smok­ing ef­forts aimed at LGBT com­mu­nity

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“The so­cial stigma and ho­mo­pho­bia and the pres­sures of be­ing LGBT in our so­ci­ety … when peo­ple are fac­ing that kind of dis­crim­i­na­tion they look for cop­ing mech­a­nisms. To­bacco can be that form of cop­ing mech­a­nism,” Blatt said. “We know peo­ple usu­ally start smok­ing fairly young. It ac­tu­ally changes their brain struc­ture as their brain con­tin­ues to de­velop.”

Those changes lead to the brain re­leas­ing a chem­i­cal called dopamine, which in­duces a feel­ing of eu­pho­ria. When dopamine lev­els get low, such as in a time of stress, smok­ers crave cig­a­rettes to en­tice that feel­ing again, he said.

“You have to learn how to smoke and you have to learn how to quit,” Blatt said. “If you ad­dress [the phys­i­cal, men­tal and so­cial parts of ad­dic­tion] as you quit, that will help you cre­ate the best quit plan for you. It takes al­most ev­ery to­bacco user mul­ti­ple times. We want peo­ple to look back at those as ‘prac­tice quits.’”

The CDC shows that 70 per­cent of smok­ers want to quit, and Amer­i­cans saw a de­cline in smok­ing dur­ing the past few decades. King at­tributes that to in­creas­ing the price of to­bacco prod­ucts, up­ping the preva­lence of smok­ing bans and giv­ing more peo­ple ac­cess to ces­sa­tion re­sources and med­i­ca­tions. He said there are seven FDA-ap­proved med­i­ca­tions avail­able to help peo­ple quit. Ac­cord­ing to the US De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, such meth­ods in­clude nico­tine patches, gum, lozenges, in­halers and nasal spray. There are also two pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions avail­able, Bupro­pion and Vareni­cline, known by their re­tail names Zy­ban and Chan­tix.

“There are more tar­geted [mar­ket­ing] ef­forts to reach the LGBT com­mu­nity,” Blatt said. “It used to be one cam­paign or com­mer­cial to reach Amer­ica and that was it.”

In 2016, the FDA part­nered with for­mer “RuPaul’s Drag Race” con­tes­tants for an anti-smok­ing cam­paign geared to­ward the LGBT com­mu­nity, re­mind­ing them that smok­ing causes not just dis­ease, but out­wardly ef­fects such as pre­ma­turely wrin­kled skin and tooth dam­age – things that any self-re­spect­ing flaw­less in­di­vid­ual would never want to be known for.

“In the At­lanta area, there was a tar­geted pro­mo­tion of these ads in the Mid­town area,” King said.

For any in­di­vid­ual who wants to quit, there are re­sources avail­able out­side the patch or pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion. Apps like Quit­ter’s Cir­cle and Butt Out of­fer sup­port, track­ing and mo­ti­va­tion. But the ul­ti­mate tool to help smok­ers stop could be their friends, fam­ily and the LGBT com­mu­nity it­self.

“I think that it re­ally comes down to a sit­u­a­tion of preach­ing what you prac­tice. We know the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple don’t smoke and don’t use to­bacco. It’s a sit­u­a­tion where we need to de-nor­mal­ize the use of to­bacco,” King said.

Jan­uary 6, 2017

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