Fearing that Asian women are tobacco companies’ next intended target, lung disease experts are urging the creation of anti-smoking campaigns designed to avoid a potential increase in smoking among that population.
Currently, only about 4 to 8 percent of Asian women currently smoke, according to data presented at the Global Congress on Lung Health. This is a much smaller proportion than the 25 percent of American and European women who smoke. Given that the rate of smoking among Asian women is so low, many fear that tobacco companies see them as a highly lucrative, untapped market. Tobacco companies market heavily in Asia already, which may explain why smoking rates among Asian men are so high — between 60 and 70 percent.
Men and women do not start smoking for the same reasons, according to experts. Women often start in order to express maturity, independence, or sociability, as well as to ease stress. “This is just the sort of connection that the tobacco industry is trying to make to every girl in the world,” said Patricia White of Britain’s National Health Service.
Women also smoke longer because they find it more difficult to quit, often due to a fear of weight gain. Women’s bodies also retain nicotine, the highly addictive drug found in cigarettes, longer than men’s bodies do.