Community-level determinants of tobacco use disparities in lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth: results from a population-based study.

Published: June 1, 2011

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether characteristics of the social environment surrounding lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth contribute to their rates of tobacco use after controlling for established community-level risk factors.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional.

SETTING:

Population-based study of youth.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 31 852 eleventh-grade students (1413 LGB individuals [4.44%]) in Oregon completed the Oregon Healthy Teens survey in 2006-2008. Main Exposures  We created a composite index of the social environment in 34 Oregon counties. This measure included the proportion of same-sex couples, the presence of gay-straight alliances in schools, and school policies (nondiscrimination and antibullying) that specifically protected LGB students.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Any tobacco use in the past 30 days.

RESULTS:

A more supportive social environment for LGB youth was significantly associated with reduced tobacco use (odds ratio, 0.92; 95% confidence interval, 0.90-0.94). This effect remained robust after controlling for sociodemographic variables and multiple community-level risk factors for tobacco use, including median county-level income, exposure to cigarette advertisements, exposure to teacher and peer smoking in schools, and school smoking rules.

CONCLUSION:

This study documents an association between an objective measure of the social environment and sexual orientation-related disparities in tobacco use. These results highlight the need for structural-level interventions that reduce smoking behaviors in LGB youth.

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