Rainbow Health and Quit Partner™ Join Forces During Pride Month to Help Minnesota LGBTQ+ Communities Impacted by Commercial Tobacco

Survey reveals that LGBTQ+ communities are disproportionately affected by commercial tobacco

MINNEAPOLIS (June 24, 2022) — In response to data that shows Minnesota LGBTQ+ communities smoke and use e-cigarettes/vape at disproportionately high rates, Rainbow Health and Quit Partner are working together during Minnesota Pride Month to raise awareness and offer free resources for help.

In addition to these public health efforts, Rainbow Health will participate at Pride events around the state, including the Twin Cities Pride Festival, June 25-26, to share information on its resources and support for the LGBTQ+ community and about Quit Partner—a program with specialized support for LGBTQ+ communities to quit commercial tobacco.

“We know that Minnesota’s LGBTQ+ communities have been severely affected by smoking and vaping,” said Rainbow Health Minnesota CEO Jeremy Hanson Willis. “Unfortunately, it’s been shown that the tobacco industry has targeted this community through marketing for decades, and we believe that Pride Month offers the chance to highlight what’s going on and offer genuine support for change.”

Rainbow Health Minnesota’s Voices of Health survey*, the only annual LGBTQ+ community health and wellness survey in Minnesota, surveyed nearly 3,000 Minnesotans in 2020 and found:

● Nearly half of Minnesota-based LGBTQ+ respondents are “ever smokers” (have smoked 100 cigarettes or more in their lifetime), and 33% of all LGBTQ respondents currently smoke—more than double the state rate of people 18+ who smoke, which is 13.8%**.

● 36% of Minnesota-based LGBTQ+ respondents reported that they have ever used e-cigarettes or vaped, and 20% of respondents had used an e-cigarette/vaped in the past 30 days (more than triple the state rate of people 18+ who report vaping in the past 30 days, at 4.9%**).

● Of the respondents surveyed, 18-24 year olds who smoke are more likely to think about quitting but not have a plan (41%) than 25-44 year olds (31%) and those 45 and up (13%).

“Our family of free Quit Partner programs help Minnesota residents quit commercial tobacco—and surveys show that a majority of past participants identifying as LGBTQ+ would recommend the program to others in the LGBTQ+ community,” said Jen Cash, acting manager, Commercial Tobacco Control Program at the Minnesota Department of Health. “Commercial tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability, and death. The effects of commercial tobacco use are sobering, which is why our resources and services are here to help.”

Cash adds that community members who smoke or vape or know people who do can get free support to quit at QuitPartnerMN.com or by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Quit Partner’s free resources include phone and web coaching, quit medications such as nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, as well as support materials dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community.

Rainbow Health is a recipient of a grant under the Minnesota Department of Health’s Tobacco-Free Communities Grant Program, which funds local community grants and technical assistance and training grants that aim to reduce and prevent youth commercial tobacco use and address commercial tobacco-related disparities in Minnesota by promoting community-driven commercial tobacco prevention and control activities and strategies.

About Rainbow Health

Rainbow Health envisions a Minnesota where people from diverse gender, sexual and cultural communities experience health and wellness in powerfully inclusive environments. Formed by the joining of Minnesota AIDS Project and Rainbow Health Initiative, its mission is to lead the work to achieve health equity for diverse gender, sexual and cultural communities. For more information, visit www.RainbowHealth.org.

About Quit Partner

Quit Partner is Minnesota’s family of free quit-nicotine programs for Minnesota residents who use any form of commercial tobacco, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes/vapes and chew. Support includes personalized coaching, email and text support, educational materials and quit medication (nicotine patches, gum or lozenges) delivered by mail. Quit Partner has specialized programs for people living with mental illnesses or substance use disorders, American Indian communities, pregnant and post-partum women, and youth under the age of 18. Learn more at www.QuitPartnerMN.com.

Note for media: Commercial tobacco products are tobacco products manufactured and sold by the tobacco industry, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and chew. Commercial tobacco is different from the traditional or sacred tobacco, which is used by some American Indian communities for sacred purposes.

*Rainbow Health Minnesota’s Voices of Health survey is the only annual LGBTQ community health and wellness survey in Minnesota. In 2020, 2,806 Minnesotans completed the Voices of Health survey.

**Minnesota Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2020