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Breathe With Pride Digital Story: Queer Youth

Out To Quit Online Guide

Are you interested in reducing or quitting your own tobacco use? Quitting is hard. In fact, it takes most people an average of 7 tries before they are successful. So don't give up!


LGBTQ people smoke and vape for lots of good reasons: pleasure, extra energy, relaxation, as a personal ritual, or an easy way to meet new people. You deserve all the good things that smoking can provide! We haven't come this far as a community to give up pleasure. You also deserve greater pleasures, sources of energy, and more powerful rituals- rituals that don’t cause Emphysema or Cancer! Once you decide to quit, your challenge is to create a life of excitement, pleasure, passion, balance, love, and respect - without cigarettes or e-cigs.


LGBTQ people smoke more than the general population. Many of our queer elders started smoking as closeted teens, some of us with our first girl or boyfriend, or when we first hit the bars. Tobacco and E-cigarette ads use themes that matter to us; like independence, personal choice, and sexual responsibility. These ads make smoking and vaping look sexy and rebellious, and who doesn’t want to be sexy? Stopping targeted advertising wouldn't stop us from smoking or vaping, because we do make our own choices. In fact, most LGBTQ smokers know about the health risks of smoking, and well over half of LGBTQ smokers want to quit.

But here’s a thought: How much do you know about the health risks of e-cigs? E-cigarettes, as opposed to traditional cigarettes may seem harmless or even like a good way to help you stop smoking traditional cigarettes, but do you really know what you’re inhaling? Quitting smoking means turning your energy and desire to change into action.


Quitting smoking or vaping is a way to take a personal stand for yourself and your community. It's a way to take control of your health and your body. Smoking or vaping are personal choices, and they should be choices you're free to make either way. So if all or part of you wants to quit, or you're just not sure, it's worth reaching out to the resources in this guide. If there are other issues you want to focus on first, you could simply take a smaller step toward quitting while you focus on larger issues. For example, you could reduce the amount you smoke or even just learn more about how to quit successfully. Then, later on when you decide to quit, you’ll be that much closer to doing so.


Not smoking or vaping can provide you with some forms of freedom that you never even thought you were missing. Nearly missed the bus and had to sprint a block and a half? How about freedom from feeling like you’re hacking up a lung and being completely out of breath for five minutes? What about those tickets that you wanted to get for you and your sweetie to the Capitol Hill Block Party? Sorry, you just spent your last 8 bucks on a pack of smokes. Smokers are often stigmatized by others, just as LGBTQ people often are. We deserve freedom from stigma for being LGBTQ and for smoking. Shame brings us all down!


20 of your drama club friends are coming over and you’re out of snacks! Your homophobic parents keep pressuring you to date the boy next door, but you’re in love with a gamer named Irene! You’re parents won’t allow top surgery! Being LGBTQ isn’t easy. The stresses we face include homophobia, racism, sexism, aging, family pressures, looking for love, and surviving. Those stressors aren’t going away. In order to quit smoking cigarettes or e-cigs successfully, we need to find new ways to handle stress. Luckily, there are plenty.


Smoking is often shown in media to be a cool thing, a rebellious choice, or a choice that makes someone even more attractive. Can smoking make us more desirable, mysterious, or dangerous? Do we need cigarettes to look butch or femme? No. Our favorite army boots, jock, or black-lace bra can do all that. We aren't all about products, anyway. Advertisers may try to sell us everything from the perfect outfit to the right accessories, but LGBTQ people are about way more than accessories and appearance. Your challenge is to find other ways to project who you are and attract who you want to attract.

Knowledge Power. We can educate ourselves and our friends about what the long term effects of smoking are. We can learn new ways to manage our stress, support our friends in making healthy changes, and make choices that help us build the kind of lives we deserve.

What Happens Once You Quit

What’s the worst thing that can happen if you quit smoking? Behind your fears are real issues that it’s good to be concerned about - issues about your identity, social life and emotions. Transforming our fears into personal action will make us stronger as individuals and as a community.

Fear: I’ll lose all my friends!

If your social life is connected to the smokers corner, will quitting mean you won’t be able to hang out with your buddies the same way you used to? Many of us grew up socially isolated because we were different. Then, just when we find friends we feel comfortable with, we worry we’ll lose them. It helps to remember that your friendships are based on a lot more than smoking. There are so many other things you have in common that won’t change when you quit. Tell your friends you’re quitting so you can see where you stand. You deserve the support of your friends and community with any positive change you want to make in your life.

Fear: I won’t know what to do with myself!

What are you going to do with your hands after you quit? What if you become more emotional? What if you are so grouchy that you’re rude to your closest friends? Quitting means learning how to handle your routine in new ways and developing new habits. You may miss your old habits, such as the ritual of smoking. Maybe you’ll need to hug your friends more, chain chew Bazooka Joe or buy the entire Adventure Time DVD set. Your challenge is to listen to your needs and find ways to express yourself. You can keep a journal, play pool, or become a drag king or queen. If none of that works, there’s always one thing you can do with your hands that’s free and fun.

Fear: I’ve Tried to Quit Before, But I Just End Up Starting Again. Is It Even Possible?

Absolutely! It’s tough to quit, so never blame yourself. A few people do quit on their first try, but it takes most smokers 6 to 9 tries to finally quit. Stopping and starting again is how people learn to quit, just like riding a bike. Every attempt to quit is a positive step because it gives you a new level of understanding about yourself and cigarettes. So keep trying! Learn from each attempt and get support if you need it. Studies show that getting support can make a big difference in whether people quit.

Fear: What if I go to a quit smoking program and the people are prejudiced and don’t understand me?

Our community isn’t always treated well in healthcare. That’s why the resources in this guide have been screened as LGBTQ and youth friendly. It’s still your responsibility to be your own advocate, ask questions, and keep asking until you get the answers you need. Getting the help you need won’t be hard, once you make that first call. A good next step may be contacting your quitline and see if they can provide you with the support you need: 800-QUIT-NOW. Finally, you should give yourself a pat on the back. You already took this first step and, often, that one’s the hardest.


How you quit smoking will reflect your individuality. Some options are: smoking less until you stop, nicotine replacement therapy like the patch or gum, herbs, acupuncture, and medications. Hooking up with a quit buddy can also help, just like a workout buddy. These local resources offer a variety of cessation programs. You can find the one that’s best for you and put your plan to quit into motion!


Acupuncture Clinic of Seattle / New Health Medical Center

Bastyr Center for Natural Health

Group Health: Free & Clear

Harborview Medical Center Smoking Cessation



Public Health - Seattle & King County Tobacco Prevention Program

Out To Quit For Businesses

Business Resources