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

Published: June 1, 2011



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.




Population-based study of youth.


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.


Any tobacco use in the past 30 days.


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.


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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