This fact file focuses on the harm that tobacco marketing and smoke do to women.
About 200 million of the world's one billion smokers are women. The tobacco industry aggressively targets women in order to increase its consumer base and to replace those consumers who quit or who die prematurely from cancer, heart attack, stroke, emphysema or other tobacco-related disease.
Girls and boys start using tobacco for different reasons, and tobacco use harms women and men differently.
Approximately 1.5 million women die every year from tobacco use. Understanding and controlling the tobacco epidemic among women is an important part of any tobacco control strategy.
- More women than men smoke "light" cigarettes: Marketing strategies lure consumers with misleading categories, such as "light" or "low tar". More women than men smoke "light" cigarettes (63% versus 46%), often in the mistaken belief that "light" means "safer". In fact, "light" smokers often engage in compensatory smoking, inhaling more deeply and more frequently to absorb the desired amount of nicotine.
- Tobacco use harms women differently from men: Women who smoke are more likely than those who do not to experience infertility and delays in conceiving. Smoking during pregnancy increases risks of premature delivery, stillbirth and newborn death, and may cause a reduction in breast milk. Smoking increases women's risk for cancer of the cervix.
- Women constitute 64% of deaths from second-hand smoke: Worldwide, second-hand smoke causes 430 000 adult deaths per year. Sixty-four per cent of these deaths occur in women. In some countries, second-hand smoke is a greater threat to women than the possibility that women might start using tobacco. More than 90% of the world's population is still not covered by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.
- People who smoke should avoid exposing the people with whom they live and work to second-hand smoke: Women and children often lack power to negotiate smoke-free spaces, including in their homes, in their workplaces and in other public spaces. Everyone, regardless of age or sex, should be protected from secondhand smoke.
- Controlling tobacco use among women is an important part of any tobacco control strategy: Tobacco prevention and cessation programmes should be integrated into maternal, child and reproductive health services. Warnings about the harmful effects of tobacco must take into account that illiteracy is higher among women than men, and should use clear pictures to ensure that those who cannot read are also able to understand the health risks of tobacco use.
Related Links :
World Health Organization - Department of Gender, Women and Health
World No Tobacco Day 2013
Trinity Care Foundation is a Non Governmental Organization focusing on Craniofacial Surgeries, School Health and Outreach Health Programs in Karnataka, India.
Connect With us To know more about our Health Initiatives, in the below Profiles:-