Inequities in tobacco advertising exposure among young adult sexual, racial and ethnic minorities: examining intersectionality of sexual orientation with race and ethnicity

Tob Control. 2021 Jan;30(1):84-93. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055313. Epub 2019 Dec 19.


Objective: This study examined sexual orientation differences in encoded exposure to tobacco product ads and intersections with race and ethnicity.

Methods: We analysed data from young adults (18-24) from the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study in 2013 and 2014 (N=9110). First, we compared encoded exposure to cigarette, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), cigar and smokeless tobacco ads between sexual minorities (lesbian/gay, bisexual and something else) versus heterosexual young adults. We then analysed encoded ad exposure across sexual orientation, racial and ethnic subgroups. Analyses controlled for demographic and tobacco use variables.

Results: Bisexual women had significantly higher prevalence of encoded exposure to cigarette and cigar ads compared with heterosexual women, and significantly higher prevalence of encoded e-cigarette ad exposure compared with both heterosexual and lesbian/gay women. There were no significant differences in encoded ad exposure between lesbian versus heterosexual women and between gay or bisexual men versus heterosexual men. Compared with heterosexual white counterparts, increased encoded ad exposures were reported by heterosexual black women (cigarette and cigar ads), black heterosexual men (cigar ads) and bisexual black women (cigarette and cigar ads). Compared with heterosexual non- Hispanic counterparts, increased encoded ad exposures were reported by bisexual Hispanic women (cigarette, e-cigarette and cigar ads) and heterosexual Hispanic men (cigarettes and cigar ads).

Conclusion: Sexual minority women of colour and black heterosexual women and men have increased encoded exposure to certain forms of tobacco ads. Further research is needed to address the impact of tobacco ads among multiple minority individuals based on sex, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity.

Keywords: advertising and promotion; disparities; electronic nicotine delivery devices; non-cigarette tobacco products; priority/special populations.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Ethnicity
  • Humans
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Tobacco
  • Young Adult