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Early history of LGBT tobacco control: CLASH at 25
  1. Naphtali Offen1,
  2. Elizabeth A Smith1,
  3. Bob Gordon2
  1. 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA
  2. 2California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership, San Francisco, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Naphtali Offen, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, P.O. Box 0612, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA; naphtali.offen{at}

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In the spring of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a national campaign, This Free Life, to discourage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from smoking (see front cover). This Free Life would have been only a fantasy 25 years ago, when a few LGBT advocates met during the campaign that made San Francisco restaurants smoke-free. They suspected that LGBT smoking rates were high and founded the first organisation dedicated to LGBT tobacco control, the Coalition of Lavender-Americans on Smoking or Health (CLASH). Its mission was three-pronged: to work within the LGBT community to raise awareness of tobacco's deadliness, to lobby mainstream tobacco control for the resources to do so and to contribute to the larger tobacco control movement.

Working within the LGBT community

At the time, HIV/AIDS, with few effective treatments available, commanded the community's attention. Other priorities included sodomy law repeal; legalising LGBT military service; and fighting antigay discrimination and violence. Marriage equality was not even a dream. The community was also grappling with high alcohol and drug use. With this burden, tobacco control was far from a priority. In this context, industry framing of smoking as a personal freedom had great salience for the LGBT community.

Hampered by a lack of data, CLASH instigated one of the …

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