nti-smoking program geared toward GLBT student community

Fabiana Torreao

The University’s Youth and AIDS Projects have received $220,000 from the Minnesota Department of Health for a tobacco prevention program geared toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.
“I’m really excited that this is the first time in the country that GLBT issues have been addressed in smoking prevention,” said Gary Remafedi, director of the Youth and AIDS Projects. ” I’m hoping that it takes off at the University as well as in the community.”
The University’s project will coordinate with the Minneapolis Youth Diversion Program’s Project OffStreets and District 202, a Minneapolis-based GLBT youth center, to develop an advisory network of youth and adults. The network will work to influence GLBT youth to prevent smoking.
Antonio Cardona, student administrative assistant for the Queer Student Cultural Center, pointed out the prevalence of smoking on campus, especially within the GLBT campus community.
“A program like that could, hopefully, have a good impact,” said Cardona, a College of Liberal Arts freshman and occasional smoker.
GLBT youth have two to three times higher smoking rates than the general population, Remafedi said. These high rates persist into adulthood, creating the need to target young GLBT communities.
“Tobacco companies have advertised directly to (GLBT youth) with images like the Marlboro man or the Virginia Slims women,” Remafedi said. “And they’ve been quite successful in promoting smoking within GLBT communities with these sexy images.”
Established in 1989, the University’s Youth and AIDS Projects, which is part of the pediatrics department, fights HIV transmission through prevention programs and provides care for young people and families already battling the infection.
The Department of Health grant is part of the Youth Tobacco Prevention Initiative funded by the 1998 tobacco industry settlement with the state of Minnesota.
The University’s YAP received one of 24 community-based grants for tobacco prevention programs.

Fabiana Torreao welcomes comments at [email protected]