Friday, June 30, 2017


I am many things: a dog owner, a writer, someone with blue hair, a bisexual woman, Jewish, a picky eater, someone with depression and anxiety, a 6th generation Oregonian, etc. I make sure to surround myself with people who accept me and all my parts. Some of these identities, however, make me more susceptible to adversity and inequality. While these disadvantages are sometimes due to mere thoughtlessness, sometimes they come due to the systematic targeting of my communities. For instance, the LGBTQ community and those with mental illnesses have been profiled and targeted for years by tobacco companies, leading to higher prevalence rates in these communities.

The way advertising affects us has to do with the way our brains process external stimuli. Whether we realize it or not, everyone is sensitive to every piece of information in their environment. Our brains compile this information to form implicit memories, or memories that we can’t recall but that still influence the way we think and behave. Advertisements take advantage of our unknowing formation of implicit memories by flooding us with positive messages about specific products and brands. By advertising in “gay press” publications, hosting local “LGBT bar nights”, and participating in pride events, Big Tobacco has associated itself with a fun and healthy LGBTQ lifestyle. The fact that LGBTQ youths are nearly 2.5 times more likely to smoke than their straight peers is no coincidence: it’s the result of decades of profiling and targeting by the tobacco industry, designed to hook us on their products.

I don’t need to tell you why high smoking rates in any given community is a disadvantage. We’ve all seen the data showing that smoking leads to any number of health complications, and often, death. Society often puts the LGBTQ community at a disadvantage by not accepting us, who we love, our safety, protecting our healthcare and childcare rights and even our right to go to the bathroom. We are subject to higher rates of hatred, intolerance, and violence than our straight friends. As a result of this discrimination, depression and suicide rates are 3X higher in LGBTQ individuals. Tobacco companies target us because we are already vulnerable.

The LGBTQ community isn’t the only community targeted by Big Tobacco. As Tomi explains, tobacco companies also target black communities and low-income neighborhoods. That’s why we are bringing attention to  truth® to put an end to their targeting of our communities. truth’s #STOPPROFILING campaign shines a light on how the tobacco industry deliberately singles out communities that already face adversity and inequality with aggressive marketing tactics. Tobacco use is more than a health issue: it’s a social justice issue. Join us by calling out tobacco industry profiling as it happens by tagging @truthorange and #STOPPROFILING and enlist at to become more involved in local actions nationwide. Teen smoking may have reached an all-time low of 6% in 2016, but there’s still work to be done, especially in these communities.

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