LGBT Stoptober!

Published: 16 October 2015 Tags: stoptober, smoking, support By John Walding

25.3% of LGBT community are smokers compared to 18.4% of those identifying as heterosexual or straight. Stoptober campaign calls on smokers from the LGBT community to sign up together as research shows people are a third more likely to quit if a friend or colleague stops smoking.

By signing up to Stoptober, quitters will get humorous supportive messages from some of the nation’s top comedians – Shappi Khorsandi, Bill Bailey, Al Murray and Rhod Gilbert.

Smokers from the LGBT community are reminded that there’s still time to sign up to Stoptober – the country’s 28 day mass quit attempt from Public Health England – as official statistics find smoking rates in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community remain higher than among those identifying as heterosexual or straight.

Furthermore, it has been found that people from the community start smoking earlier, smoke more and smoke for longer.

All those who sign up to this year’s Stoptober campaign can still receive support and encouragement every step of the way throughout Stoptober from some of the nation’s top comedians. And to stand an even better chance of quitting, they are encouraged to sign up with their friends, family and colleagues, as evidence reveals that this type of ‘social quitting’ can dramatically improve people’s chances of successfully stopping.Research shows that smokers are a third more likely to quit when a close friend (36%) or someone they work with (34%) stops. The data also shows that individuals are much more likely (61%), to smoke if a friend or someone they are close to smokes – showing the powerful influence that people’s social networks have on their own smoking behaviour.

Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco for Public Health England said:“The benefits of stopping smoking are almost immediate: quitters will soon see reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. It is one of the best things a person from any community, including the LGBT community, can do to improve their health and reduce their chances of developing long-term conditions and dying prematurely”

“This year, Stoptober will be providing people with more engaging and personalised support than ever. Along with receiving proven advice and support, participants this year will get encouragement every day from some of the best comedians in the country to help them reach 28 days smokefree. Sign up today and get ready to start your quitting journey with our support.”

Rob Cookson Deputy Chief Executive of Manchester’s LGBT Foundation shares his story of how he is quitting:‘I didn’t smoke at school. I started aged 17 when I met a guy I fell in love with and initially only smoked with him (in secret). So I had two secrets I was hiding from my parents, being gay and being a smoker. At the time I felt I was in control, I could go without having a cigarette for ages but at university I smoked more and I was struggling with my sexuality. My smoking increased the more I worried about the possible judgement I would get about me being gay from my parents, friends, society etc. The years rolled by and by the time I was in my thirties I couldn’t stop smoking. I tried about seven or eight times to quit but always went back to the perceived security of a cigarette after a month. I did access a smoking cessation service but I didn’t feel that it spoke to me as a gay man. Nothing contextualised the issue of being gay and being a smoker or recognised that smoking had a link with my anxieties about coming out, about being gay. Eventually I turned to other friends from the LGBT community for support and asked them about their experiences of quitting smoking. That LGBT peer support was inspirational and key to my giving up cigarettes. I’m pleased to say that I am now fifteen months smoke free.’

Shappi Khorsandi who is supporting this year’s campaign says: “I have friends and family who haven’t been able to stop smoking and so I know how hard quitting can be. That’s why this Stoptober, I’m on hand to offer encouragement, support and a little bit of TLC when the going gets tough. Make it through 28 days and you’re five times more likely to quit for good.”

By signing up to Stoptober, participants can choose from a range of free support tools including daily emails and text messages from the comedians throughout the 28 day quit attempt as well as a mobile phone app which includes lots more tips and advice - all of which have shown to increase the chances of staying smokefree.

To sign up to the nation’s biggest mass quit attempt, visit http://smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober

For more information on LGBT people and Smoking checkout The National LGB&T Partnerships resources to help services support LGBT people around smoking cessation.