Using a population-based sample of youth, we examined rates of cigarette use and trends in cigarette use disparities between heterosexual youth and 3 subgroups of sexual minority youth (SMY) (ie, lesbian or gay, bisexual, and unsure) from 2005 to 2015.METHODS:
Data are from 6 cohorts of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national, biennial, school-based survey of ninth- to 12th-grade students in the United States (n = 404 583). Sex-stratified analyses conducted in 2017 examined trends in 2 cigarette-related behaviors: lifetime cigarette use and heavy cigarette use (20+ days in the past 30).RESULTS:
Disparities in lifetime cigarette use between lesbian and heterosexual girls were statistically smaller in 2015 relative to 2005 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.29; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.12–0.75; P = .011). Sexual orientation disparities in heavy use were narrower for bisexual boys in 2015 compared with 2005 (aOR 0.39; 95% CI 0.17–0.90; P = .028). Girls and boys unsure of their sexual identity had wider disparities in heavy use in 2015 (aOR 3.85; 95% CI 1.39–11.10; P = .009) relative to 2005 (aOR 2.44; 95% CI 1.22–5.00; P = .012).CONCLUSIONS:
SMY remain at greater risk for cigarette-related behaviors despite greater acceptance of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the United States. Focused policies and programs aimed at reducing rates of SMY cigarette use are warranted, particularly for youth questioning their sexual identity.