Ottawa Public Health has a message for local queer and trans communities: stop dragging your butt.
Your cigarette butt, that is.
The smoking cessation program, Stop Dragging Your Butt, was developed in 2005 by Anne Meloche while she worked for the Program Training and Consultation Centre (PTCC), which provides training and technical assistance to Ontario’s health professionals working in tobacco control as part of the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy.
The program was developed with the input of Ottawa residents to create a cessation program that’s more relevant to our lives — in order to address the unusually high incidence of smoking in our communities.
“As you may know, the prevalence of smoking in the [GLBT] community is higher than the general public,” says Meloche, who is now with Ottawa Public Health and is responsible for the city’s smoking cessation portfolio within Tobacco Control. “The community actually came to PTCC to say, ‘We need a program.’ The need was there.”
Recent statistics show that smoking rates are consistently and significantly higher in queer and trans communities due to such issues as stress, fear and stigma. In the general Canadian population, smoking rates hover at about 18 percent, while recent research suggests that current smoking rates within queer communities remains between 24 and 55 percent.
“This was developed in Ottawa because we had the critical mass and the request came from Ottawa,” Meloche says. “We did some focus testing with members of the community that smoke to [ask], How do we reach you and what is important to you in regards to quitting smoking? How do we address the issue? What elements are different or important to the GLBT community that we need to take into account? Things like coming out, isolation. The [workshop] facilitators are specially trained to address these issues.”
The resultant program offers two options: a quick-and-dirty two-hour evening workshop and a more intensive four-week session. Though the program was developed in Ottawa, Stop Dragging Your Butt is being made available across Canada with the goal of lowering smoking rates in our communities.
While the program has been active in Ottawa for seven years, word about its existence has been slow to spread. The two-hour evening workshop scheduled for May 28 was cancelled due to lack of registration, and the four-week program scheduled to run June 4 to 25 has garnered little interest, as well.