Publications

Sexual orientation discrimination and tobacco use disparities in the United States

Introduction: Differences in tobacco/nicotine use by sexual orientation are well documented. Development of interventions requires attention to the etiology of these differences. This study examined associations among sexual orientation discrimination, cigarette smoking, any tobacco/nicotine use, and DSM-5 tobacco use disorder (TUD) in the United States.
Methods:

We used data from the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions based on in-person interviews with a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized US adults. Approximately 8.3% of the target population was estimated to have same-sex sexual attraction, 3.1% had at least one same-sex sexual partner in the past-year, and 2.8% self-identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Results: Sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity were significantly associated with cigarette smoking, any tobacco/nicotine use, and DSM-5 TUD. Risk of all tobacco/nicotine outcomes was most pronounced for bisexual adults across all three sexual orientation dimensions. Approximately half of sexual minorities who identified as lesbian or gay and one-fourth of those who identified as bisexual reported past-year sexual orientation discrimination. Sexual minorities who experienced high levels of past-year sexual orientation discrimination had significantly greater probability of past-year cigarette smoking, any tobacco/nicotine use, and TUD relative to sexual minorities who experienced lower levels of sexual orientation discrimination or no discrimination.

Conclusions: Sexual minorities, especially bisexual adults, are at heightened risk of cigarette smoking, any tobacco/nicotine use, and DSM-5 TUD across all three major sexual orientation dimensions. Tobacco prevention and cessation efforts should target bisexual adults and consider the role that sexual orientation discrimination plays in cigarette smoking and treatment of TUD.

Implications: Differences in tobacco/nicotine use by sexual orientation are well documented, but little is known about differences across all three sexual orientation dimensions (attraction, behavior, and identity) or the origins of these differences. This study is the first to show that differences in tobacco/nicotine use across the three sexual orientation dimensions for respondents who were exclusively heterosexually-oriented were minimal, but varied more substantially among sexual minority women and men across the three sexual orientation dimensions. Sexual minorities who experienced high levels of past-year sexual orientation discrimination had significantly greater probability of cigarette smoking, any tobacco/nicotine use and DSM-5 tobacco use disorder.