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As a community, we’ve got a lot to celebrate.

Big wins over the past few years have included marriage equality and increased transgender visibility.

Yet our march for equality and justice goes on. The question is: Will our lungs get us there?

The numbers paint a grim picture.

LGBTQ Coloradans are TWICE as likely to smoke compared to straight people. While the smoking rate for all Coloradans has decreased by nearly 5 percent from 2004 to 2014, the rate of smoking in our community remains the same.

Why are LGBTQ people so much more likely to use tobacco?

For the same reasons straight people smoke: stress, mostly. But our stress is different.

Many people can’t relate to the stress of being discriminated against. The stress of not being accepted by your family. The stress of being singled out for abuse for who you are.

But we know all about that. It’s no surprise that one in three of us seeks out a cigarette to relieve the stress.

But it’s killing us–literally. Smoking-related disease claims the lives of 30,000 LGBTQ people every year.

You may not be used to asking for help. We didn’t get to where we are today without fighting every step of the way.

But nicotine is different. It’s one of the most addictive substances around. Most people try several times before they finally quit for good.

Whether you’re ready to quit, just considering it, or you’ve tried to quit a dozen times, learn about resources to help you quit, get the facts about smoking in the LGBTQ community, and connect to others who share the struggle.

Because at the end of the day, it’s our strength as a community that pushes us forward on tough social issues like equality, and tough personal ones, like tobacco.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Not a smoker? Talk to friends who are. No lectures, just offer the facts and tell them you’ll support them when they’re ready to quit. Tell them there are free resources–including coaching and medication–when they’re ready.
  • Stop smoking socially. You might think it’s no big deal to bum a cig when you’re out, but the truth is that it puts you on the path to addiction. It’s a lot easier to stop now than when you become addicted.
  • Learn how to quit. Maybe you’re not ready to quit; that’s OK. Even if you’re just thinking about it, you can talk to someone for free about what to expect. The Colorado Quitline offers counseling and free quit medications like nicotine patches or gum.
  • Ready to quit? With support, you can control the cravings and quit for good. The Colorado QuitLine offers free quit medication and coaching by phone. If that sounds old school, check out the This is Quitting app.

The fight–for equality and for the health of our community–continues.