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It’s no secret that LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke than heterosexual people. In fact, according to research conducted in the UK in 2018, 22.2% of lesbians and gay men smoke compared to just 15.5% of heterosexual people.

Where there is less insight is into the struggles, motivations and methods that LGBTQ+ use when it comes to giving up smoking. It’s why at GAY TIMES, in paid partnership with NICORETTE®, have set out to learn more about queer people’s quitting journeys in order to empower others to try and stop smoking.

We’ve helped tell the stories of three LGBTQ+ people about how they quit smoking in a video where each person has shared their relationship with smoking and how they all managed to successfully quit.

Alongside that, GAY TIMES and NICORETTE® have also conducted a survey where we asked former LGBTQ+ smokers about their experiences successfully quitting. It’s all part of our overall goal to create a world where all queer people thrive. It’s our belief that by sharing the lived experiences of queer people who have successfully quit smoking, GAY TIMES and NICORETTE® can help bring more power to your willpower so you, too, can kick the habit.

Examining the results of the survey, it became overwhelmingly obvious that even though people smoke, health concerns were still a big worry. In fact, nearly 60% of the people who took part said that they were worried about the health impact of smoking.

Why smoke, then? Well, just over a quarter of those who took part said that they felt that smoking was a part of their personality, which echoes the testimony given by Billie in our video while recounting their quitting journey. Likewise, a large proportion (63.7%) said that despite the health worries, they actually enjoyed smoking prior to quitting.

Still, while people may have felt these things, it’s clear that the relationship that people have with smoking isn’t clear cut. While 55% of respondents saying they were addicted to smoking, 42.4% said that they had a love/hate relationship with it.

Peer pressure and social norms also explained how people felt about their smoking habit. Over a quarter of respondents (27.6%) said that they felt that smoking had helped them meet new people.

This certainly tracks with the camaraderie many might feel while in the smoking area of a nightclub and bar where, away from the noise of the music, people get to chat. But the social aspect that accompanies smoking provides its own issues, with 15% of people saying that they smoked just because everyone else did and nearly 40% of all those surveyed felt trapped by the habit.


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For most people, health concerns were the biggest reason to kick the habit. Of course, as we know smoking is incredibly harmful for your health. According to the NHS, around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking each year and increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. This includes causing around 70% of all cases of lung cancer, as well as cancer in other places such as mouth, throat, liver and stomach. It increases your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and can exacerbate conditions such as asthma.

This likely explains why over 77% of respondents to our survey said that physical health was their biggest incentive when it came to stopping smoking. But there were other reasons, too: smoking is an incredibly expensive habit, and 41% said that the financial burden was enough to make them stop.

Smoking also impacts those around us. According to the NHS, those who are subjected to second-hand smoke have an increased risk of developing the same diseases as smokers, including lung cancer and heart disease. This likely explains why just over a quarter of those surveyed said that they quit smoking because of a partner, family member or child.

None of this, however, makes quitting smoking easy. In fact, 66% of those we surveyed said that they agreed that quitting smoking was difficult. And explains why it can take several attempts to succeed with 60% of respondents saying that it took them 3 or more attempts before they were successful.

Cigarette cravings are one of the biggest hurdles that any one quitting smoking faces. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was being on nights out that the majority (72.6%) of people said were the hardest moments to resist cravings, although over half of respondents (55.7%) said that stress also triggered cravings.

What becomes clear is that there’s no one approach when it comes to quitting smoking. This becomes particularly apparent when analysing the different methods people used in order to quit. Over half (55.9%) of quit attempts are made with just willpower alone. 16.3% of respondents said that they utilised nicotine replacement therapies such as NICORETTE® for
their quit attempt. In fact, using NICORETTE® can increase your chances of successfully quitting by up to 60% vs willpower alone.

No matter how people approached quitting, over 90% of respondents said that they would encourage others to quit smoking. The majority of people said that they felt healthier since quitting (72.3%), while a large proportion said that they felt proud, positive and free since they successfully quit.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to quit. Whether you’re thinking of quitting smoking with a friend or going it alone, stopping is one of the best thing you can do for your own health – and the health of people around you. For additional support to help you quit visit

You can also speak to your pharmacist, GP or local stop smoking service.

In paid partnership with Nicorette. Nicorette 2mg Gum contains nicotine. Stop smoking aid. Requires willpower. Always read the label. UK-NI-2201062 Individuals featured in the consumer videos were paid for their stories. Not all individuals used Nicorette to quit smoking. All opinions expressed are their own