Purpose: Young sexual minority men smoke at higher rates relative to heterosexual peers. The purpose of this study was to examine correlates of smoking in a sample of young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who might differ from more general and age-diverse samples of sexual minority individuals and, thus, inform tailored approaches to addressing tobacco use within this population.
Methods: Data on smoking status were examined in relation to demographics, mental health, substance use behavior, and psychosocial factors. Using multinomial logistic regression, factors were identified that differentiate current and former smokers from never smokers.
Results: In bivariate analysis, smoking status was related to demographic, mental health, substance use, and psychosocial factors. Most significantly, smoking status was associated with school enrollment status, current alcohol and marijuana use, and symptoms of depression. Multivariate modeling revealed that, compared to being a never smoker, the odds of current or former smoking were highest among those currently using either alcohol or marijuana. The odds of both current and former smoking were also higher among those reporting greater levels of gay community affinity. Finally, the odds of being a former smoker were higher for those reporting internalized antihomosexual prejudice.
Conclusion: This study identifies several factors related to smoking status in a diverse sample of young sexual minority males. These findings should encourage investigations of smoking disparities among younger MSM to look beyond common smoking risk factors in an attempt to understand etiologies that may be unique to this group. Such findings may indicate multiple points of potential intervention aimed at decreasing cigarette smoking within this vulnerable population.