The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) population has been a focus of the tobacco industry since Philip Morris placed its first ad in Genre magazine in 1992. 1 The strategy to target the LGBT community was uncovered through the discovery of the tobacco industry's internal "Project SCUM" (Sub-Culture Urban Marketing) document. 2 It has also been shown that they have conducted focus groups to learn about the smoking habits of gay men.3
Now, the tobacco industry openly targets gays and lesbians, placing ads in LGBT publications. These ads twist cherished LGBT values, like freedom, choice and pride, manipulating them to make smoking seem appealing to the community.
Since the LGBT community became a target, the tobacco industry has spent millions finding ways to infiltrate their community. Examples include making campaign contributions to LGBT elected officials;4 5 funding AIDS and LGBT organizations directly or indirectly through other companies they own, such as Miller Beer;6 and, sponsoring pride marches, LGBT street fairs and film festivals.6
This appearance of support, however, is false. They recruit members of the LGBT community to advocate for the industry's interests,7 8 but most devastating is the toll of the harmful and deadly effects that tobacco causes to the group.
The LGBT population has one of the highest smoking rates compared to any other group. Overall, sexual minorities are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes than their heterosexual counterparts.9
- Smith, E, Malone, R, "The Outing of Philip Morris: Advertising Tobacco to Gay Men," American Journal of Public Health. June 2003, Vol 93, No. 6.
- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Project Scum. 12 Dec 1995. Bates: 518021121-518021129.
- Guiles & Associates. Exploratory qualitative research: "Benson & Hedges in the gay market," February 2004. Philip Morris. Bates No. 2504053916/3938.
- Soliz, G. president, Coalition of Lavender-Americans on Smoking and Health. Letter to Assemblywoman Carole Migden Requesting She Return $25,000 Philip Morris gift. San Francisco, December 17, 2001.
- Gronke, A. "Tobacco Control Proposal Criticized Smoking: Activists Say Bid to Shift Regulation from Health Agency to Alcohol Unit is Result of Industry Donations to Lawmakers," Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2001.
- Offen, N., Smith, E.A, Malone, R., From Adversary to Target Market: the ACT-UP Boycott of Philip Morris. Tobacco Control, 2003; 12(2):203-207.
- Daragan, K., Special Kings/Genre coverage, August, 18 1992. Philip Morris. Bates No. 2023439113.
- Mixner, D., Report: Update of Progress. Tobacco Institute, June 9, 1998.. Bates No. TI31439127/9131.
- Lee JG, Griffin GK, Melvin CL. Tobacco use among sexual minorities in the USA, 1987 to May 2007: a systematic review. Tob Control 2009;18(4):275-282.