Tobacco Use at the Intersection of Sex and Sexual Identity in the U.S., 2007–2020: A Meta-Analysis

Published:November 17, 2020DOI:


      A 2009 systematic review synthesized data between 1987 and 2007 and revealed a higher prevalence of smoking among sexual minority populations than among heterosexuals. Subsequently, growing attention to tobacco use among sexual minority populations has spurred more literature on this issue because higher tobacco use prevalence has been found in certain sexual minority subgroups relative to others. However, a population-level synthesis of tobacco use prevalence by sexual minority subgroup has not been done for the past decade.

      Evidence acquisition

      Investigators conducted a meta-analysis by searching MEDLINE, Web of Science, EMBASE, and PsycINFO for U.S.-based studies published between 2007 and 2020 that specifically reported tobacco use prevalence among adults and separated the sexes and gays/lesbians versus bisexuals. Using random-effects models, meta-prevalence estimates, 95% CIs, and heterogeneity (I2) were calculated for each sexual minority subgroup.

      Evidence synthesis

      A total of 30 studies were included in the meta-analysis. The highest current cigarette use prevalence estimates were found among bisexual women (37.7%), followed by lesbians (31.7%), gay men (30.5%), and bisexual men (30.1%). Heterosexual men (21.0%) and women (16.6%) had the lowest prevalence.


      Tobacco use prevalence among sexual minorities during 2007–2020 remained at similarly high levels as those during 1987–2007, and tobacco use disparity between sexual minorities and heterosexuals persisted in the past decade. Significant heterogeneity existed in tobacco use across sexual minority subgroups, with bisexual women having the highest prevalence. These findings are critical for increasing decision maker's awareness and action to address sexual minorities’ persistent high prevalence of tobacco use, particularly among bisexual women.
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