East Carolina researcher collaborates on study of tobacco policies, alcohol sponsorship at LGBT pride festivals

An East Carolina University researcher has found people attending LGBT pride events across the United States have little protection against secondhand smoke.

Dr. Joseph G.L. Lee, assistant professor of health education and promotion in ECU’s College of Health and Human Promotion, co-authored “Tobacco Policies and Alcohol Sponsorship at Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Festivals: Time for Intervention,” which was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health. Jasmine D. Spivey, who graduated magna cum laude in December from ECU with a bachelor’s degree in health education and promotion, was the lead author. Dr. Stacy W. Smallwood, assistant professor at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University, was a co-author for the study.

 Dr. Joseph G.L. Lee

Dr. Joseph G.L. Lee (contributed photo)

Members of LGBT communities have higher rates of tobacco use and alcohol abuse than their non-LGBT counterparts. Both alcohol and tobacco use represent forms of substance use with substantial costs to the U.S. economy, health care and LGBT lives. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption cause more than 500,000 premature deaths each year in the United States.

Corporate marketing can play a role in contributing to greater levels of smoking and alcohol use among LGBT populations, the researchers say. They reviewed tobacco policies and alcohol industry sponsorship at LGBT pride events in the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. They found that very few pride events have protections in place for secondhand smoke. Many have evidence of alcohol industry sponsorship. The limited number of protections from secondhand smoke were due to smoke- or tobacco-free park policies where the events were being held.

Based on the results, the authors are calling on researchers, practitioners and pride event organizers to enact policies that can reduce tobacco and alcohol use disparities. “We think these data show better engagement between state health departments and LGBT community organizations is needed,” Smallwood said.


-by Crystal Baity, ECU News Services