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With the help of RuPaul Drag Race Season 9 contestant and Milwaukee native Jaymes Mansfield, the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance is proud to launch a new #TobaccoFreePride video series!
A diverse group of LGBTQ Milwaukeeans—including performers, an athlete, and a family—are sharing their stories in videos highlighting their #TobaccoFreePride.
Anneke Mohr, coordinator for the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance, said the #TobaccoFreePride initiative is drawing attention to the pervasiveness of tobacco and its harm to the LGBTQ community, as well as the positive aspects of quitting.
“The LGBTQ community smokes at roughly twice the rate of the general public due to industry targeting, coping with discrimination, and social spaces that provide easy access to tobacco, so we want to highlight stories of people who have overcome the addiction or have had loved ones struggle with tobacco addiction,” she said.
As performer Montell Infiniti Ross shares in one video, “Smoking was part of my coming out story. Meeting new people, going new places—smoking was mixed into that.”
Motivation to quit often surfaces once smokers start to notice the physical effects of smoking. “The need for me to quit smoking came when I realized it was affecting my asthma,” explains UWM Drag Show performer and MC Lady J.
Healthy activities and social spaces can help people adopt new behaviors and quit smoking, as Chris Durian from the Milwaukee Gay Volleyball Association shares.
And smoke-free spaces are in high demand for LGBTQ families. “We want to be in an environment that’s clean and fun to be in. And the smoke is certainly a deterrent,” says Meighan Bentz.
“We’re encouraging those who have been impacted by tobacco, especially LGBTQ Milwaukeeans, to share their stories with us through the Tobacco-Free Pride initiative,” Mohr said.
The Alliance applauds PrideFest Milwaukee’s inclusion of three nonsmoking areas at this year’s event, part of a growing recognition that the most festival goers prefer a smoke-free experience.
“It’s an important first step,” says Anthony Harris, co-chair of the Alliance’s LGBTQ Work Group. “We encourage all festivals to expand their smoke-free spaces in the future and to consider adopting tobacco-free sponsorship policies, following the lead of Pennsylvania, Twin Cities Pride, and other festivals nationwide.”
The Alliance will host a table in the Health and Wellness area (one of three designated non-smoking areas) of PrideFest, to be held on Friday, June 9, through Sunday, June 11.
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