Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) View It Differently Than Non-LGBT: Exposure to Tobacco-related Couponing, E-cigarette Advertisements, and Anti-tobacco Messages on Social and Traditional Media

Nicotine Tob Res. 2019 Mar 30;21(4):513-522. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty049.


Background: LGBT populations use tobacco at disparately higher rates nationwide, compared to national averages. The tobacco industry has a history targeting LGBT with marketing efforts, likely contributing to this disparity. This study explores whether exposure to tobacco content on traditional and social media is associated with tobacco use among LGBT and non-LGBT.

Methods: This study reports results from LGBT (N = 1092) and non-LGBT (N = 16430) respondents to a 2013 nationally representative cross-sectional online survey of US adults (N = 17522). Frequency and weighted prevalence were estimated and adjusted logistic regression analyses were conducted.

Results: LGBT reported significantly higher rates of past 30-day tobacco media exposure compared to non-LGBT, this effect was strongest among LGBT who were smokers (p < .05). LGBT more frequently reported exposure to, searching for, or sharing messages related to tobacco couponing, e-cigarettes, and anti-tobacco on new or social media (eg, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) than did non-LGBT (p < .05). Non-LGBT reported more exposure from traditional media sources such as television, most notably anti-tobacco messages (p = .0088). LGBT had higher odds of past 30-day use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and cigars compared to non-LGBT, adjusting for past 30-day media exposure and covariates (p ≤ .0001).

Conclusions: LGBT (particularly LGBT smokers) are more likely to be exposed to and interact with tobacco-related messages on new and social media than their non-LGBT counterparts. Higher levels of tobacco media exposure were significantly associated with higher likelihood of tobacco use. This suggests tobacco control must work toward reaching LGBT across a variety of media platforms, particularly new and social media outlets.

Implications: This study provides important information about LGBT communities tobacco-related disparities in increased exposure to pro-tobacco messages via social media, where the tobacco industry has moved since the MSA. Further, LGBT when assessed as a single population appear to identify having decreased exposure to anti-tobacco messages via traditional media, where we know a large portion of tobacco control and prevention messages are placed. The study points to the need for targeted and tailored approaches by tobacco control to market to LGBT using on-line resources and tools in order to help reduce LGBT tobacco-related health disparities. Although there have been localized campaigns, only just recently have such LGBT-tailored national campaigns been developed by the CDC, FDA, and Legacy, assessment of the content, effectiveness, and reach of both local and national campaigns will be important next steps.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising / methods
  • Advertising / trends*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods
  • Marketing / trends
  • Mass Media / trends*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention / methods
  • Smoking Prevention / trends*
  • Social Media / trends*
  • Tobacco Industry / methods
  • Tobacco Industry / trends
  • Young Adult