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LGBT smoking cessation classes to start in January: National webcast tackles the issue.

WICHITA - The Bilerico Project, the third largest LGBT news blog nationally, recently published a personal update from Bil Browning, editor of the publication. Browning recently announced in October that he would be quitting smoking on his 40th birthday ... a life-long struggle for long struggle for him and many in the L GBT community.

Browning, not only went public, he decided to start a "wider conversation" on smoking in the LGBT community. The American Legacy Foundation partnered with Browning and The Network for LGBT Health Equity to produce an Equity to produce an excellent short video to help get the conversation started.

Legacy also joined the Human Rights Campaign in hosting a panel discussion that was viewable by webcast on Dec. 11 discussing these issues.

Check out Legacy's website to view the video and all of the latest documents and research that were just released at LGBT or Tobacco Free Wichita Coalition's blog,, for local news, support and events.

Why should the LGBT community worry about smoking? Aren't there enough problems to tackle? "Tobacco use is the number one preventable health problem that we can steer clear of," Dr. Scout, director of The Network for LGBT Health Equity, stated in the video.

Smoking rates in the LGBT community are often 70% higher than the general community due to discrimination, the stress of coming out, feeling alienated (especially as a teenager) and the social norm of smoking within the community.

More than 30,000 LGBT lives are lost yearly due to smokingrelated illnesses and complications. Many in the community don't realize the impact tobacco has on the entire body. Smoking not only increases cancer risks and asthma, but can also interfere with medications; including hormone therapy, medications for depression and HIV treatments.

In fact, smoking can weaken the immune system allowing HIV and cancers to be more aggressive and at the same time interferes with the medications, making them less effective.

During the December panel discussion, Legacy brought together leaders within the LGBT community to share their knowledge and experience with others. Their efforts can educate people on how to make a difference in tobacco control in their own community.

One major step forward has been the inclusion of a sexual orientation question on the National Health Survey that is conducted every year. This will allow for more accurate results on various health issues among the LGBT community. For the first time, this question will be included in the 2013 survey. More data equals more funding opportunities.

In Wichita, community partners are coming together to increase support, resources and smoke-free policies to help protect the LGBT community from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, especially for those with weakened immune systems and asthma.

Anyone interested in taking steps to manage their addiction, look for Last Drag Quit Kits, which are placed in local organizations and venues around Wichita. Kits include free resources, tips and tricks for helping make a plan to quit. To request a kit, please contact Tobacco Free Wichita (TFW) at TobaccoFreeWichita@hotmail. com or 316.530.2839.

The Center is partnering with the American Lung Association and TFW to provide Freedom From Smoking cessation classes in January and February. Anyone interested in quitting with group support, is asked to contact TFW and indicate what days and times work best. Notification will go out when the class is scheduled.

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By Tobacco Free Wichita Coalition
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Title Annotation:Leather Life; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Publication:Liberty Press
Geographic Code:1U4KS
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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