A Republican candidate for Missouri's House of Representatives once called being gay more dangerous than smoking.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hardy Billington made the comments in a 2012 ad in support of a failed state bill that sought to prohibit public schools from discussing sexual orientation except in “scientific contexts.”

“We are encouraging and affirming individuals into the ‘gay’ lifestyle. If you truly love someone, you would steer them away from self-destructive behaviors, shouldn’t you? Homosexuals need our tough love, not blind love,” Billington wrote in the ad, adding that “study after study” shows that being gay cuts life expectancy by up to 30 years, more than smoking.

While men who have sex with men are more likely to contract HIV, the virus does not discriminate. Additionally, advances in HIV treatment have drastically increased life expectancy.

Out Missouri Rep. Greg Razer, a Democrat, pointed out that such homophobia is a factor in lowering the life expectancy rate of LGBT people.

“What might take years off of people's lives are young people growing up in communities where they hear this [rhetoric] spouted from people of authority,” Razer told the outlet. “Those teenagers then commit suicide, that's how years come off your life.”

Billington is also the author of The Election by Faith in '04. According to the book's description, Billington writes in the book about his “outrage” over the 2004 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that made Massachusetts the first state in the United States to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Billington is running unopposed in Tuesday's GOP primary and is likely to face Robert L. Smith, a former judge and prosecutor, in November. Smith, a Democrat, is unlikely to win because the district leans heavily Republican. The district's current representative, House Speaker Todd Richardson, a Republican, is unable to run due to term limits.