One trend that’s changing pride festivals for the better
In 2000, a Camel cigarette ad in a San Francisco newspaper touted all the pride festival events the company was sponsoring—more than a dozen events over five days. The brand’s presence at the prominent festival is just one way the tobacco industry has targeted the LGBT community, a group that is disproportionately impacted by tobacco.
Overall, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults smoke at rates up to 2.5 times higher than straight adults, due in part to target marketing by Big Tobacco. For years the tobacco industry has made efforts to appeal to this population through event sponsorships, advertisements in LGBT press, cigarette giveaways and free tobacco industry merchandise.
Ally ads: How the tobacco industry has used gay pride
Fast forward to San Francisco Pride 2017: the festival organization is one of many LGBT-serving groups in the city that has adopted a tobacco-free policy—meaning it doesn’t accept tobacco industry funding, and it is now a completely tobacco-free event in accordance with city law.
San Francisco isn’t alone. More pride festivals across the country are showing how the tobacco industry is not their ally. Former LGBT HealthLink Policy Manager Juan Carlos Vega noted a shift in 2015.
“For years, health promotion in LGBT communities has been focused on HIV and STD control and prevention,” wrote Vega for LGBT HealthLink. “However, health campaigns are expanding towards a broader, wellness-oriented approach that moves beyond our sexual health to face issues like cancer and mental health. And tobacco seems to be on the forefront as pride events increasingly incorporate tobacco control and prevention strategies to reduce the burden of smoking at the local level.”
Here are a few ways pride events and organizations from across the country are promoting smoke- and tobacco-free prides.