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The Culprit On Women Smoking?

Recently I read a report titled "Women and Smoking" published by The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia, it mentioned:

"While the prevalence of smoking amongst women is still below that for males, the difference between the two groups has considerably narrowed in recent years. This is because men's smoking rates have declined by more than 50% since 1945 (down from 72% to the present rate of 32.1%). Female smokers, on the other hand, appear to have been less influenced by anti-smoking messages."

Among the factors quoted in the report which have an impact on women smoking are marital status, employment status, occupational status and the relationship between the level of education attained.

However, from a non smoker perspective of whom I am, I believe there are definitely other factors at play, two that I can think of, one is attributed to "Advertising" and the other is "Men".

The reason I am on this opinion is that women smoke because of the way cigarettes are advertised and where they are shown. Women smoke is also because they believe smoking will make them act, look, and feel differently.

You will notice cigarette ads when targeted towards women always promote slimness. And if I am not mistaken, six years after Virgina Slims were introduced, twice as many women were seen smoking. There this kind of cigarette ads will make women think that by smoking, they can become thin, sexy and healthy. Further all smoking ads are set in places with clean, wholesome settings, can you find any ads show people with stained teeth, wrinkled faces, and a large cloud of smoke hovering over heads?

The other reason why I feel is attributed to men is because cigarettes have always been attributed to class and intellect associated with men which men use to portray strength. Hence, the phenomenon of fairer sex in a way has not shy women away from smoking, as women also deem this as a perfect portrayal of women's attitude and strength. For example, cigarettes, also known as the stress sticks, are no longer the domain of the male.

The answer to whether advertising or men is the culprit and which one the more dominant factor, i.e. "The Culprit on Women Smoking", I would say is subject to much debate and further survey, right?

What is needed now is to curb the epidemic of smoking and its related diseases throughout the world. Some measures which could be taken include:
  1. Increase awareness of the impact of smoking on women's health - The media, broadcast authority and women's magazines should play an important role in raising women's awareness of the magnitude of the impact of smoking on their health. For instance, women have to aware that lung cancer is not the only concern, others ensuing such as cardiovascular, health effects on pregnancy, pulmonary, and other life threatening diseases as well.

  2. Increase the awareness to counter the tobacco industry's targeting of women - Get women aware that tobacco industry's sponsorship of women's activities such as in sports, in professional and leadership organizations, its support to curb domestic violence against women, and so on is actually an attempt to associate itself with things women most value. Such associations should be decried for what they are, i.e. attempts to position itself as an ally of women's causes and thereby to silence potential critics.

  3. Recognize that nonsmoking is by far the norm among women - The fact that almost all women have either rejected smoking for themselves or, if they do smoke now, wish to quit, should be promoted aggressively through various means, one of them could be a more vocal constituency related to women and smoking.

  4. Encourage the reporting of gender-specific results from studies of factors influencing smoking behavior, smoking prevention and cessation, and the health effects of tobacco use. This reporting will provide additional evidence to help women aware as well as suggest important gender differences exist in the appeal and use of such products, and the health consequences of their use. In a way this will help women to better understand the disparities in smoking prevalence among different groups and sexes, further defined by socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. In short, it helps to tackle issues such as how can the decline in smoking among women who are less well educated be accelerated, how to disassociate cigarette smoking from progress in achieving gender equity and so on.

  5. To arrest the smoking prevalence among women - What is already known about effective means of tobacco control at the societal level should be disseminated throughout the world as soon as possible to prevent the increase in the level of smoking among women worldwide.

  6. Encourage and make aware of the importance to support and participate in the World Health Organization's Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) to government of every country - That FCTC is an international legal instrument designed to curb the global spread of tobacco use through specific protocols, which cover tobacco pricing, smuggling, advertising and sponsorship, and many other related activities.


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