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UMD-Led Website Aims to Snuff Out Tobacco Use Among LGBTQ+ Teens of Color

Partnership With State Provides Resources for Quitting, Strategies to Prevent New Users

By Sumaya Abdel-Motagaly ‘26

t shirt that says live in color

The UMD-led project Live in Color Without Tobacco, or Vive en Colores sin Tobacco, seeks to help LGBTQ+ youths of color avoid tobacco use. Black and Hispanic communities as well as members of sexual minorities are at increased risk of tobacco-related health burdens.

LGBTQ+ as well as Black and Latinx populations are at increased risk for using tobacco products, so youths of color who are LGBTQ+ are squarely in the sights of Big Tobacco. As a result, they experience greater tobacco-related health burdens than their non-LGBTQ+ and white peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To address this disparity, a University of Maryland-led collaborative is developing a prevention communication campaign and resources in English and Spanish as part of a CDC-backed project known as Live in Color Without Tobacco, or Vive en Colores sin Tobacco. The campaign is a partnership between two centers within the School of Public Health—the Prevention Research Center and the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy—along with the Maryland Department of Health.

The website includes a host of resources to support organizations in addressing tobacco prevention, including information on the harms of tobacco use and vaping as well as free call and text lines to support youth quitting these products. The website also provides information to LGBTQ+ centers and resources in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

“We are creating these communications materials because there are none that exist to specifically speak to this audience,” said family science Associate Professor Jessica Fish, project leader and Prevention Research Center co-director. “Phenomenal organizations are working with Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ youth, but tobacco prevention and control isn’t their only priority when serving these communities. We aim to provide these additional resources to accompany and support the great work they are already doing.”

These free online resources emphasize the importance of tobacco prevention, highlighting the need to limit its widespread use.

“The tobacco industry uses marketing tactics focusing on these communities,” said Devlon Jackson, Assistant Research Professor of Behavioral and Community Health and the project’s communication lead. “We have learned from community partners and members of the LGBTQ+ community that additional resources and support are needed due to the increase in tobacco use within the community.”

Live in Color’s project coordinator, Carter Carter ’24, a Master of Public Health student in biostatistics, said they were encouraged to quit tobacco usage during their time working on the project after seeing the direct harm of tobacco usage on their community.

“Given competing demands and limited resources, the issue of tobacco use is not a top priority for many LGBTQ+ community organizations,” Carter said. “This is why the Live in Color/Vive en Colores campaign is needed—to support centers in their effort to alleviate some of these disparities that we see.”



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School of Public Health

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