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OUT Against Big Tobacco


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For decades, Big Tobacco has preyed on the LGBTQ community, targeting us through their marketing campaigns, getting us hooked on their products and then profiting off our deaths. The result? LGBTQ people are more than TWICE as likely to smoke as our non-LGBTQ peers, and nearly 30,000 LGBTQ people across the country die every year of tobacco-related causes.

Led by Equality California Institute, the OUT Against Big Tobacco Coalition is taking a stand and exposing Big Tobacco’s predatory marketing tactics that target our community:

Sign up to join us:

Tobacco Use: What We Know

  • Even though tobacco use has plummeted among Americans over the past 50+ years, tobacco use and tobacco-related deaths are still disproportionately higher for LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities.

  • Nearly 24% of California’s LGBTQ population uses tobacco products, compared to just 17% of adults who don’t identify as LGBTQ.2

  • Estimates of smoking rates among LGBTQ youth range from 38% to 59%, compared to just 28% to 35% of youth generally.3

  • Flavors, like menthol or candy, cover up the harsh taste of tobacco, which makes it easier to get hooked — and harder to quit. Approximately 36% of LGBTQ smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to just 29% of non-LGBTQ adult smokers.2

How Big Tobacco targets the LGBTQ community:

  • In the mid-90s, Big Tobacco launched a campaign titled Project SCUM (Sub-Culture Urban Marketing) that targeted “alternative populations,” including gay men. This predatory marketing — in which Big Tobacco literally preys on the most vulnerable members of our LGBTQ community — are still used today:

    • Advertisements focus on themes like pride, liberation, and acceptance in order to appeal to LGBTQ people and make us feel like smoking or chewing tobacco is a key part of our LGBTQ identity.

    • Big Tobacco funds AIDS and LGBTQ nonprofit organizations and sponsors pride celebrations and events at gay bars in order to portray themselves as “friendly” to our community — even as they profit off our deaths.. 2

OUT Against Big Tobacco Coalition

Formed by Equality California Institute, the OUT Against Big Tobacco Coalition is an alliance of LGBTQ individuals and community organizations collectively working to address tobacco control and health inequity issues within Los Angeles County’s LGBTQ community. Our goal is not to force LGBTQ people to stop smoking, but instead to expose Big Tobacco for preying on our community and profiting off our deaths. We advocate for common sense policies that protect LGBTQ people — especially the most vulnerable members of our community — from Big Tobacco’s predatory marketing tactics. Members of the OUT Against Big Tobacco Coalition include:

Grant Opportunity

Equality California Institute will be offering 1-year community grants of $5,000 to qualified LGBTQ nonprofit organizations that agree to take on additional responsibilities of the OUT Against Big Tobacco Coalition. Click here to learn more and fill out the OUT Against Big Tobacco Coalition Sub-grantee Application.


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