Background: Despite the elevated prevalence of smoking among gender minority adults, little is known about the factors that influence their tobacco use and cessation.
Purpose: We identified and examined factors that influence tobacco use and cessation for gender minority adults, using a conceptual framework based on the Model of Gender Affirmation and Gender Minority Stress Model.
Methods: Nineteen qualitative, semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with gender minority adults who smoke or no longer smoke and were recruited from the Portland, OR metropolitan area. Interviews were audio-recorded, professionally transcribed, and analyzed utilizing thematic analysis.
Results: Four main themes were generated. Gender minority adults smoke to cope with general and gender minority-specific stressors. Smoking was described as a social behavior that was influenced and sustained by community and interpersonal relationships. Smoking cessation was motivated by health concerns (both general and gender minority-specific) and moderated by conducive life circumstances. Recommendations for tobacco cessation interventions highlighted the importance and role of social support. Participants expressed a strong desire for gender minority-specific tobacco cessation programs. There are unique and complex factors that contribute to the higher prevalence of smoking observed among gender minority adults.
Conclusions: Tobacco cessation interventions are urgently needed for this population and should be tailored to address the unique factors that impact tobacco use and cessation among gender minority people to increase the likelihood of success.
Keywords: Cessation; Gender minority; LGBT; Smoking; Tobacco; Transgender.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Smoking rates among gender minority people (people whose gender identity and/or gender expression do not align with the cultural expectations of their sex assigned at birth) are higher than in the general population. As a result, for developing smoking cessation interventions, it is important to understand what influences tobacco use and cessation among gender minority adults; however, little is known about these specific influencing factors. By conducting 19 interviews with gender minority adults who smoke or no longer smoke, we found gender minority adults smoke to cope with general and gender minority-specific stressors. In addition, smoking was described as a social behavior that was influenced and sustained by community and interpersonal relationships. Furthermore, smoking cessation was motivated by health concerns (both general and gender minority-specific) and moderated by conducive life circumstances. In sum, to encourage tobacco cessation, these findings suggest interventions across multiple contexts. Gender-affirming smoking cessation programs may prove more acceptable, satisfactory, and successful when (a) tailored to gender minority persons’ needs, motivators, and experienced barriers and (b) aligned with significant and meaningful life changes, such as gender-affirming hormone therapy and surgery.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.