The smoking rate among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in West Virginia is higher than that of the general population, new data suggests.

Nearly 41 percent of people in the LGBT community smoke, compared to 23.9 percent of the state's general population, according to data from researchers in West Virginia University's School of Public Health and the state Bureau for Public Health's Division of Tobacco Prevention.

This is the first time the tobacco use survey has collected data concerning sexual orientation.

Robert Anderson, an investigator with the WVU Prevention Research Center, said studies by other states and LGBT groups have indicated that a higher number of LGBT people are smokers.

It was "high time" researchers found out if the same was true in West Virginia, Anderson said. The general rule is that twice as many in the LGBT community smoke as the straight population, he said.

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