The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community faces adversity from social stigma and exclusion. This increases their likelihood of engaging in high risk behaviors, like tobacco use, and could result in negative health outcomes. Smoking continues to be the LGBTQ community’s biggest health burden.1

2018 BRFSS LGB+ Graph

This data is aggregated from 2014-2018 BRFSS, except for current vapers, which is from 2016-2018 BRFSS.

One survey has shown that 22% of the transgender community smokes.2 We have limited data on this population, and it is necessary to draw from other studies to assess the need. The lack of routine data collection leads to minimal information on how to support the LGBTQ community, and hinders funding and policy decisions that are inclusive.

Check out this glossary of LGBTQ terminology developed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's LGBT+ Resource Center. Please note that these terms are generalized and that there is no universally utilized, defined, or accepted definition for any LGBTQ+ language. Terminology used within LGBTQ+ communities are subject to individual, regional, generational, cultural, etc. differences. However, the listed definitions and terminologies provide a strong foundation for better understanding LGBTQ+ identities and communities.

Sexual Orientation: An enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.3

  • 4 in 10 LGB adults have been discriminated against in the workplace based on their sexual orientation4
  • Nearly 50% of LGB adults have been rejected by a friend or family member since coming out4
  • 7 out of 10 LGB youth were verbally harassed based on sexual orientation5
  • 3 out of 10 LGB youth were physically harassed based on sexual orientation5

Gender Identity: One's innermost concept of self as male or female – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.3

  • 8 out of 10 transgender adults have faced some form of transgender-related discrimination in the workplace2
  • Over 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide vs. 4.6% of the general population2
  • 6 out of 10 transgender youth were verbally harassed based on gender identity5
  • 7 out of 10 transgender youth regularly heard negative remarks about transgender people5

Get Involved

  • Engage in partnerships with agencies that support the LGBTQ+ communities
  • Attend Pride fests, parades, and other regional events that support the LGBTQ community and allow for information sharing on the burden of tobacco
  • Provide information to local, regional, and national policy makers on tobacco disparities specific to the LGBTQ community
  • Write letters to the editor that highlight tobacco-related disparities in the LGBTQ community and promote the Quit Line
  • Host ongoing educational sessions to increase awareness and knowledge

LGBTQ Information

  • Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools (GSAFE) : GSAFE increases the capacity of LGBTQ+ students, educators, and families to create schools in Wisconsin where all youth thrive
  • GSAFE list of GSAs : List of Gay-Straight Alliances and similar clubs in Wisconsin Schools
  • GLBT Near Me : Find the closest social and support resources, community centers, youth groups, supportive religious organizations, and more
  • Transgender FAQ : Learn more about the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. Acquire resources on the transgender community
  • Human Rights Campaign : Learn more about the LGBTQ community and specific policies that exist or are currently being advocated for
  • Trevor Project : The mission of The Trevor Project is to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people. The Trevor Project website is comprehensive and offers multiple resources for LGBTQ youth and their allies
  • National Center for Transgender Equality : Learn more about issues of importance to transgender people, and the education and advocacy work on these issues
  • Lambda Legal : Lambda Legal is a civil rights organization that advocates for LGBT communities and people living with HIV/AIDS through litigation, public education, and public policy work
  • CenterLink : A coalition of community centers serving LGBT communities in the United States and abroad
  • Diverse and Resilient : A nonprofit agency that works to address health disparities experienced by LGBT communities in Wisconsin through advocacy and direct-service work
  • FORGE : A progressive organization that offers support, education, and advocacy for transgender individuals and their loved ones
  • Trans Student Resource Center : Learn more about how to support transgender and gender nonconforming youth in educational environments
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) : The ACLU is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country". The ACLU works on a number of LGBT rights, including issues concerning parenting, youth, and nondiscrimination protections
  • Services & Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE) : Find resources on issues faced by LGBT seniors, and learn about existing services and advocacy work
  • Fair Wisconsin : Fair Wisconsin works to protect and advance the civil rights of Wisconsin's LGBTQ communities through lobbying, grassroots organizing, electoral involvement, coalition building, and legislative advocacy

Tobacco-Specific Information

  • LGBT Health Link : One of the CDC's national networks to reduce health disparities. It is a community-driven network of advocates and professionals looking to enhance LGBT health by reducing tobacco-, cancer-, and other health-disparities within our communities



  1. BRFSS (2014), YRBS (2007, 2009, 2011 combined dataset)
  2. U.S. Transgender Survey (2015)
  3. Human Rights Campaign (2016)
  4. The Williams Institute (2011). Documented Evidence of Employment Discrimination & Its Effects on LGBT People
  5. Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (2013). GLSEN School Climate Survey

Related Resources