International Issues

Women and Tobacco

"Women are a major target of opportunity for the tobacco industry, which needs to recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases."
— World Health Organization, World No Tobacco Day, 2010

Tobacco's Deadly Seduction

Tobacco use among women is rising. Without governments taking action to reduce smoking, the worldwide women's smoking rate is expected to rise to 20 percent by 2025 from a rate of 9.3 percent in 2007.

Increases in tobacco use are the result of changes in the role and economic status of women as economies grow, as well as changes in social and cultural factors as nations modernize.

However, the direct, aggressive marketing of tobacco targeted to women is the driving factor in increased tobacco use by women seen around the world.

The tobacco industry targets women and girls with aggressive and seductive advertising that exploits ideas of independence, emancipation, sex appeal, slimness, glamour and beauty. Tobacco companies design products to specifically appeal to women, such as flavored cigarettes and fashionable packaging.

Even in countries where tobacco use by women is low, women are disproportionately exposed to secondhand smoke in the home and workplaces. Of all deaths attributable to secondhand smoke, 64 percent occur among women.

Effective policies must be adopted to reduce tobacco use among women and protect women from secondhand smoke.

By curtailing tobacco marketing, adopting strong health pack warnings, increasing the price of tobacco products, expanding protection against secondhand smoke and carrying out effective public education campaigns, the predicted epidemic of tobacco-related illness and death among women around the world will be prevented