School researcher, alumnus contribute data on tobacco use among sexual minorities

July 12, 2010
Dr. Cathy Melvin

Dr. Cathy Melvin
Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health faculty member Cathy Melvin, PhD, and alumnus Joseph Lee, MPH, CPH, were leaders in providing data used in “Smoking Out a Deadly Threat: Tobacco Use in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community,” a report recently published by the American Lung Association (ALA). The research also was referenced in a blog by Cable News Network’s medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, MD.

The ALA report found factors that might contribute to higher LGBT smoking rates include stress and discrimination related to homophobia, the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing to LGBT customers, and lack of access to appropriate tobacco treatment programs, as well as various other factors. The report recommends that state and federal health surveys include questions about sexual orientation.
Lee and Melvin co-authored a systematic review of studies on the subject, published in 2009 in the journal Tobacco Control. Data from the review were used to develop the ALA report, for which Lee served on the editorial advisory board.
Lee is a social research specialist in the UNC Department of Family Medicine’s Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program.
Melvin, research associate professor of maternal and child health in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a research associate at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and director of the dissemination core for UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the NC TraCS.
ALA’s LGBT report is the second in its Disparities in Lung Health series, which aims to better understand why specific populations are susceptible to worse lung health. This report builds on ALA’s long-standing commitment to save lives and improve lung health for all Americans.
For more information about lung disease in various populations, see the recently released State of Lung Disease in Diverse Communities: 2010 and Too Many Cases, Too Many Deaths: Lung Cancer in African-Americans, available at

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or