Indy Pride Fest ’18 Goes Tobacco Free

May 24, 2018

by Jeremy Turner, President, Indy Pride Board of Directors

Greetings! Below is a press release sent to media contacts regarding a major improvement to Indy Pride Fest! It is with a great deal of excitement that we announce that the 2018 Indy Pride Festival will officially be a smoke free event. The decision to go smoke free was not made lightly, but rather as a result of a larger push for a healthier community for us all.

I am a smoker. I started smoking at the age of 17, and with the exception of a short stint of not smoking, I have consistently smoked for the past 17 years. Being a gay man in my 30’s, it is statistically more likely that I WOULD smoke, because our community exhibits some of the highest rates of smoking among any of those in the country.

Once the Indy Pride Board of Directors began reviewing the information, it was pretty astounding to learn about how big tobacco has targeted us as consumers while using their profits to support causes that work to undermine priorities important to our community. The American Cancer Society estimates 30,000 LGBT+ people die from smoking each year. LGBT youth smoke at 20%-50% the rate of the general population of the same age group, and the LGBT community as a whole present some of the highest rates of smoking even among other disproportionately affected communities.

People living with HIV who smoke lose over twice the years of life as those without HIV. The LGBT community spends nearly 8 billion dollars on cigarettes every year, and big tobacco takes that money to make political contributions 8-1 to politicians that oppose important LGBT+ legislation at an 8-1 rate. The list really goes on and on.

There will be no “smoking police” at the festival, and our intention was never to smoke shame anyone. The decision to go smoke-free makes us third among Pride festivals nationwide, and in light of reviewing the data around how smoking impacts our community, I hope that everyone understands and supports the motivation behind this decision.

There will be designated smoking areas throughout the festival, and I am CERTAIN that with the stresses of the day and week leading up to the event I will be seeing some of my fellow nicotine users in there throughout the day. I wish nothing more than good health and happiness for us all, and I hope this move helps to make the future a little brighter for reducing our brothers’ and sisters’ risks of smoking and disease in the future.

Indy Pride, Inc. Announces New Partnership to Address Tobacco Use in LGBTQ+ Community

May 23, 2018–Indy Pride, Inc. is proud to announce our new partnership with the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission of the Indiana State Department of Health. The Hoosier LGBTQ+ community has been disparately affected by tobacco use for decades. The smoking rate among Hoosier LGBTQ+ adults is about 53 percent higher than cisgender/straight adults, according to the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey. This new partnership is dedicated to positive, healthy messaging to lessen the tobacco burden among all communities.

Many factors may contribute to the high prevalence of tobacco use in the LGBTQ+ Community, such as dealing with discrimination and stigma.

The LGBTQ+ community has worked hard in recent years to overcome these societal barriers, while at the same time becoming an audience for targeted tobacco marketing. According to recent studies, high rates of tobacco use within LGBTQ+ communities are due in part to aggressive marketing by tobacco companies that sponsor events, bar promotions, giveaways and advertisements.

Indy Pride Fest ’18 will join two other Pride Festivals in the United States by choosing to become tobacco-free. This year’s festival, and future festivals, will provide smoke-free environments for all attendees and families, while also encouraging tobacco-free lifestyles. We want to remind the Indy LGBTQ+ community that you can be yourself, have fun, and be smoke-free.

Indy Pride, Inc. produces events which educate, honor our history, and celebrate the diversity of the Indianapolis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community. We exist to unite and serve our members and the LGBTQ+ community of Central Indiana through leadership development, educational programs, and community events which achieve inclusivity, equality, strong community connections, and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.