Over recent years, figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Public Health England (PHE) have highlighted that those within the LGBTQ+ community are unfortunately more likely to smoke compared to heterosexual individuals.
New research carried out by Truth Initiative have now highlighted that this has extended to e-cigarettes. They state "Between 2020 and 2021, e-cigarette use rates rose at higher rates among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth compared to heterosexual youth".
In this blog we address why smoking and/or vaping is more frequent within the LGBTQ+ community, with guidance from health care professionals alongside the best ways to quit smoking for a much healthier smoke-free lifestyle. If you have any queries, please be sure to reach out to us where a member of our team will be there to help you.
Why is smoking/vaping more frequent within LGBTQ?
Unfortunately due to ongoing inequality faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, there is a much greater risk of depression and other negative mental health taking effect. According to Stonewall, 52% of LGBT people experienced depression the last year, with one in seven avoiding healthcare due to fear of being discriminated by staff.
In reports carried out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse they highlight that smoking or vaping is believed to be more common within those suffering from depression or schizophrenia as nicotine may lessen the symptoms of these illnesses, including poor concentration, low moods and stress.
However, you may not be aware that smoking can in fact cause an opposite effect. According to Mental Health Foundation, research carried out highlights that smoking can actually increase anxiety and tension overall and should be avoided, especially if already suffering with mental health issues.
Benefits of quitting smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health if you currently use tobacco products. It's also much easier when you have the right support, which you'll be pleased to know there are many options to choose from. It's never to late to quit smoking, according to the National Health Service (NHS), regardless of your age or lifestyle, a smoke-free life will improve your health.
Increased physical health
Each cigarette that you smoke directly exposes your body to thousands of chemicals, many of which are actually classed as poisonous. The day you quit smoking, your body will begin clearing itself of these harmful toxins and begin repairing damage caused.
Reduced risk of smoking-related diseases
One you quit smoking risks of smoking-related diseases are reduced which include cancer, lung and heart disease and stroke. After a year of quitting, the risk of a heart attack will halve when compared to a smoker. After ten years, the risk of dying from lung cancer reduces to half that of a smoker. After fifteen years smoke-free, your risk of heart attack finally falls to the same as somebody who has never smoked.
Better mental health
As previously discussed, many believe that smoking supports your mental health, however the opposite is true. Evidence from the NHS highlights that after the initial withdrawal stage of quitting, people experience reduced anxiety, depression and stress. Those who quit smoking also notice an increased positive mood compared to those who smoke cigarettes.
Ways to quit smoking
You may not be aware that there are many ways to quit smoking other than standard nicotine replacements such as patches. The most important thing to mention is that willpower is one of the most required things as without it you'll have no reason to quit in the first place.
Stop smoking aids
The most common smoking aids are found with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) which include patches, sprays, gums and lozenges, in some cases prescription-only medicines such as tablets can be provided. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist for free expert advice to increase your chances of quitting.
NRTs provide nicotine without the harmful chemicals that can be found within cigarettes, they are great to reduce withdrawal symptoms you may experience when quitting smoking. These stop smoking aids have been widely used for many years now and a safe treatment which can be purchased from shops and supermarkets in addition to pharmacies.
How to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)?
The NHS highlight that it's a great idea to try a combination of NRTs to begin with to find out what works best for yourself to increase your chances of staying smoke-free. Don't be afraid to use as many NRT as you need to help you manage your cravings, although be sure to avoid taking more than advised on any packaging or advice from a healthcare professional.
The NHS recommend that NRTs are used for about 12 weeks or for as long as they are required to keep you from smoking cigarettes again.
Vaping to quit smoking
When it comes to vaping, there's a lot of misleading and confusing information which can make it hard to understand. According to both NHS and PHE, vaping is 95% safer than smoking whilst being one of the most effective tools for quitting smoking. "You're roughly twice as likely to quit smoking if you use a vape compared with other nicotine replacement products" - NHS.
What is vaping?
Vapes are electronic devices that provide nicotine via vapour that is inhaled instead of smoke from cigarettes. This vapour is created by heating e-liquid which contains nicotine and flavourings.
E-liquids are available in many nicotine strengths to ensure you have control over the amount of nicotine consumed to help with cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. The NHS highlight that "nicotine itself is not very harmful and has been used safely for many years in medicines to help people stop smoking."
Which vape is best to quit smoking?
It's important to select the right vape kit when it comes to quitting smoking, by doing so you will ensure your greatest chance to success. A vape bar, pod device or beginner vape kit are good choices as they are compact whilst closely matching a cigarette without the harmful chemicals.
When it comes to e-liquid, it's important to select the right strength to satisfy your needs. If you're used to smoking heavily then start with a higher strength as this will give you a greater chance of continuing on your smoke-free lifestyle.
Get help to quit smoking
If you're currently smoking and looking for further support on quitting smoking, please be sure to check out NHS Smokefree for expert guidance on safer alternatives to smoking with valued resources creating to increase your chances of quitting smoking for good.
If you have any further queries or are worried about smoking as an LGBT individual, please be sure to reach out to us where a member of our team will be more than happy to provide anonymous support and guidance.