Smoking among lesbians, gays, and bisexuals: a review of the literature

Am J Prev Med. 2001 Aug;21(2):142-9. doi: 10.1016/s0749-3797(01)00331-2.


Objectives: To collect estimates of smoking prevalence among lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from the published literature and to compare with general population estimates.

Methods: Databases were searched for all studies published in English on tobacco use among lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. From 1987 through 2000, twelve studies were identified (four youth, eight adult): seven were based on convenience samples; one on a population-based probability sample; one involved random sampling within selected census tracts; one was based on a large multicenter clinical trial; and two were representative school-based samples. Study findings were compared to national survey data from the corresponding time period.

Results: Estimated smoking rates for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals ranged from 38% to 59% among youth and from 11% to 50% among adults. National smoking rates during comparable periods ranged from 28% to 35% for adolescents and were approximately 28% for adults.

Conclusions: While information in the published literature is limited, it appears that smoking rates are higher among adolescent and adult lesbians, gays, and bisexuals than in the general population. Steps should be taken to ensure representation of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in tobacco-use surveillance and to collect data in order to understand the apparent high smoking rates in these groups. Attempts should be made to target prevention and cessation interventions to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*