Rates of smoking among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents and adults appear to be higher than rates for the general population (Gruskin, et al., 2001; Ryan, et al., 2001; Stall, et al., 1999). Smoking is also likely problematic among transgender people, many of whom face poverty, homelessness, stressful living and work environments, and depression in their daily lives. Despite the fact that smoking negatively impacts or complicates health issues of particular importance to LGBT persons (e.g., hormone therapy for transgender people, HIV/AIDS), tobacco companies target these communities. Yet, there is little research on smoking cessation by and for LGBT persons.
Community activists in San Francisco started working more than a decade ago to address these problems. In the early 1990’s, Lyon-Martin Women’s Health Services initiated “The Last Drag,” the first stop-smoking group for LGBT and HIV positive smokers. The California Lavender Smokefree Project (CLSP), funded by the state in the mid-90’s, counteracted tobacco industry targeting of LGBT communities. In 1996, the Coalition of Lavender Americans on Smoking and Health (CLASH), with the help of Progressive Research and Training for Action (PRTA), (a community-based organization specializing in LGBT technical assistance), held Alive with Pleasure! the first federally funded conference on tobacco use among California’s LGBT population. In 1998, at the urging of CLASH members, the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) launched its first tobacco study with gay/bisexual men.