Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Something to Think About – Free Yourself from Tobacco Advertising

By Tierra Ortiz-Rodriguez, M.Ed., LPC-I

Tobacco kills almost six million of its users each year. The tobacco industry needs to attract new customers to replace those who die or manage to quit in order to maintain and increase tobacco sales and profits.
– World Health Organization

The tobacco industry continues to be profitable despite the fact that its consumer base is dying from the product it sells. Thank goodness, we don’t subscribe to that business model. We have a strong preference for your wellness and for ours.

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, a yearly campaign by the World Health Organization to raise critical awareness of startling health risks associated with tobacco use. It has special meaning to us here at the Montrose Center as we celebrate one-year as tobacco free. In June of last year, in keeping with the mission of maximum health and wellness for our staff, clients, and community members, we banned the use of tobacco products anywhere on our campus.

In 2013, the theme is to concentrate on banning tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, a topic that is not lost on the Montrose Center. The prevalence of smoking is estimated to be as much as 200 percent higher in the LGBT community than in the general population. Big Tobacco—currently a $400 billion dollar worldwide industry—has directly targeted the LGBT community for many decades via advertising, outreach, and sponsorship in LGBT bars, clubs, magazines, and community events. According to the WHO, this creates a damaging culture of “the socially acceptable addiction.”

In addition to aggressive marketing by tobacco companies, the LGBT community is at increased risk of nicotine dependence due to a host of stressful psychosocial realities, including:

  • discrimination
  • lack of  health insurance
  • increased substance abuse (e.g., alcohol use)
  • socialization activities and bar culture
  • body image concerns
  • coming out and hetero-negativity
  • family rejection

The good news is that if you are thinking about cutting down or quitting smoking, there are many options to support you. One surefire way to build motivation and momentum for change is to understand your reasons for cutting down or quitting.

Do you want to reduce your risk for cancer, heart disease, premature aging? Are you financially strapped or wanting to save money for a meaningful goal? Is smoking negatively affecting your relationship or social life? Do you have a family history of tobacco-related illness or death? Are you HIV positive and alarmed that smoking compromises your immune system and is known to be more deadly than the virus itself? Taking an inventory of your personal reasons for quitting and considering the “4 R’s”—Relevance, Risks, Rewards, and Roadblocks—are key ingredients to building the “5th R”—Resolve—for cutting down or quitting.

The next step is to plan and prepare for action. You might start telling your friends or family that you are planning to quit. You might set a quit date. You might talk to your healthcare provider about your desire to quit, and learn about evidence-based medications known to improve success rates. You might look into nicotine replacement therapies, such as the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, nasal spray, and inhaler, which can help curb withdrawal symptoms that typically peak within 24 hours of quitting and gradually decline in intensity over the next 10 days. You might even explore some phone apps to help monitor your smoking frequency and money spent/saved on smoking.

And when you are ready for the big leap, you might quit cold turkey or with the assistance of medication and/or counseling. Research shows counseling and medication are effective by themselves, but more so in combination. You might call a quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) that offers telephone support and community referrals, or text message experts at You might attend a support group, like the Montrose Center’s “The Last Drag” smoking cessation group that meets every Monday at 7 p.m. You might schedule a session with your counselor to develop a coping plan for triggers. You might start to address lifestyle factors that contribute to your smoking, such as stress, social isolation, and boredom. While you’re at it, you might even start pursuing other health goals and natural rewards that support your quit attempt, such as improving nutrition and fitness and incorporating new people, places, and things in your daily life. Take a look at our free wellness classes to see if there are other ways we can help.

It is important to realize that most people will require multiple attempts to quit before they are successful, and rather than viewing it as a failure, each attempt is an opportunity to learn. It Gets Better! So, how will you commemorate World No Tobacco Day?

Facebook Posts

Latest Posts