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Explaining Sexual Minority Young Adult Cigarette Smoking Disparities

Young adults who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have smoking disparities compared to heterosexual young adults. A new study looked at specific risk factors within this population and their impacts on this disparity: depressive symptoms, recalling exposure to tobacco marketing in bars, and cigarette social norms.

This study administered surveys to over 3900 young adult college students to measure sexual identity, depressive symptoms, recalling tobacco marketing in bars, and perception of cigarette use norms. The results showed that young adults who identify as a sexual minority reported more depressive symptoms and risks of major depressive disorder, more accepting cigarette use norms, and higher prevalence of cigarette use compared to heterosexual peers. When controlled for other variables, the perception of cigarette use mediated the relationship between sexual minority identification and past 30-day cigarette use.

Overall, young adult college students who identify as a sexual minority are potentially a high-risk group and should receive tailored messages to change the perception of cigarette use within this population.

Take Away: When comparing cigarette use, norms, and depressive symptoms between heterosexual and sexual minority college students, sexual minority students have more accepting cigarette-related social norms which may lead to more use in this population.

Hinds, J.T., Loukas, A., Perry, C.L. (2019). Explaining Sexual Minority Young Adult Cigarette Smoking Disparities. Psychology of Addicting Behaviors. doi.org/10.1037/adb0000465

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