If anyone has a reason to smoke, gay people do. Gays have higher rates of PTSD,depression, and anxiety—all of which lead to the urge for a cigarette. And a tragically high number of gay people are told that they are diseased, aberrant, intrinsically disordered throughout their youths, fostering a self-loathing that can lead, if not to suicide, than to nearly suicidal activities.
It’s dismaying but not surprising, then, to learn from a new study that a startling 33 percent of LGBTQ people smoke—a rate 68 percent higher than the general U.S. population. Even worse, the LGBTQ community spends an astonishing $7.9 billion every year on tobacco, about 65 times the amount of money spent on all LGBTQ lobbying. And the numbers carry a dark footnote: HIV-positive smokers lose an average of 12.5 years off their lives, compared with 5.1 years lost for HIV-positive nonsmokers.