Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine will give a moderated poster presentation at this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions that displays the prevalence of smoking, e-cigarette use and high-risk behaviors among adults who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual.

Dr. Salim Virani, professor of cardiology at Baylor and the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, and Dr. Mahmoud Al Rifai a fellow in training at Baylor, said the findings from the study show that people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are more prone to report vaping use and risky behaviors than those who identify as heterosexual.

“This is a segment of the community we really need to focus our interventions on especially when it comes to the messaging about the harms associated with e-cigarettes,” Virani and Al Rifai said.

The findings are based on a national survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), which was sent to roughly one million individuals across the United States. The survey asked heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual adults questions on their current use of various substances:

  • E-cigarette use
  • Cigarette use
  • Tobacco use
  • Marijuana use

The survey also asked about participation in certain high-risk behaviors:

  • Experimentation with illegal drugs
  • History of transmitted diseases
  • Exchange of money or drugs for sex

When comparing the survey responses, Virani said 38 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual adults reported using e-cigarettes versus 19.8 percent of heterosexual adults. Their analyses also showed that cigarette smoking, dual use of e-cigarette and regular cigarettes and marijuana use were also higher in individuals who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual compared with those who identified as heterosexual. Lesbian, gay or bisexual adults also reported engaging in high-risk behaviors more often than heterosexual adults.

“This is important because our results show that lesbian, gay and bisexual adults have risk markers and behaviors that may make them prone to chronic illnesses,” Virani said. “When it comes to intervention to reduce e-cigarette use including public health messaging related to harmful effects associated with e-cigarette use, special efforts will need to be instituted in this segment given high prevalence of e-cigarette use among them.”

Al Rifai will present the results of this study as a part of the “Cardiovascular Disease among Minority and Vulnerable Populations” session on Sunday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.