Women and Girls
diseases claim more than 430,000 American lives each year. This includes those
affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal
smoking and victims of "secondhand" exposure to tobacco's
carcinogens. Smoking costs the United States approximately $97.2 billion each
year in healthcare costs and lost productivity. Despite all that is known about
the deadly health consequences of smoking, 22.0 percent of women smoked
cigarettes in 1998. Data from the National Health Interview Survey in 1991 and
1992 showed that 76 percent of female smokers ages 12 to 24 years reported
feeling dependent on cigarettes.
- Since 1980,
approximately 3 million U.S. women have died prematurely from smoking-related
illnesses. Additionally, women who smoke experience gender-specific health
consequences, including increased risk of various adverse reproductive
- Lung cancer is
now the leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; it surpassed breast
cancer in 1987. About 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths among women who
continue to smoke are attributable to smoking.
sales and advertising targeting women in the late 1960s and early 1970s
coincided with a major increase in the number of teenage girls who began
smoking. A 1997-1998 National Health Interview Survey showed that among young
women, 25.1 were current smokers. White women (31.6 percent) were more likely
than black women (9.6 percent) or Hispanic women (12.0 percent) to smoke.
- In 1999, the
tobacco industry spent a record $8.24 billion to advertise and promote
cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, an increase of 22.3 percent over 1998
spending. The tobacco industry has developed potent lures for adolescent girls.
The industry targets women with ads linking smoking to fashion, beauty and
slimness to sell cigarettes. These themes are very much at odds with the
serious health consequences experienced by women who smoke.
- In the 1960s,
tobacco companies introduced advertising, such as the Virginia Slims campaign,
aimed at selling specific brands to women. The strategies focused on the
emerging womens movement. In the mid-1990s, the slogan became
"Its a woman thing" and more recently evolved into a campaign
focused on women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds that promoted a
relationship between smoking and womens freedom and empowerment. These
messages resonated particularly well with young women. Initiation rates among
girls ages 14 through 17 years rapidly increased, paralleling the increased
sales of cigarette brands targeted to women.
- The decline in
adult smoking has meant the tobacco industry must recruit more than 1 million
new smokers a year, about 3,000 per day. Most of these new smokers are children
and adolescents. In Illinois, 6,000 teens become new daily smokers each
information on Women and Smoking, see