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Health

Advocates Say Tobacco Companies Aggressively Target LGBTQ Community

EqualityMaine says marketing by the tobacco industry is fueling health disparities among the LGBTQ community.

The advocacy group hosted a Facebook live event on the issue Friday. The executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, who goes by the name Scout, said use of tobacco products among the LGBTQ community is 50% higher than the rest of the population.

"We are, unfortunately — because we have experienced so much stigma and so much social isolation and discrimination — we're an easy and cheap market for any corporation, honestly, to curry favor with," Scout said.

The U.S. CDC says that higher use of tobacco products within the LGBTQ community is partly due to aggressive marketing by tobacco companies that sponsor events, bar promotions, giveaways, and advertisements.

Democratic state Rep. Michele Meyer of Eliot also spoke during the Facebook Live event. She's sponsoring legislation that would end the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Maine.