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WHO Warns of Rise in Women Smoking

In preparation for World No-Tobacco Day on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) this week released a report called “Women and the Tobacco Epidemic.” The report highlights tobacco advertisers’ use of targeted marketing towards women, “effectively exploiting the struggle of women everywhere for equality and women’s rights,” by positioning cigarettes as a sign of independence and freedom. Tobacco advertisers are using slogans similar to the ones they used in the 70s and 80s in the U.S. and other industrialized countries to win female smokers in developing countries. Lines such as “You’ve come a long way, baby,” and the use of the color red try to align smoking with the larger relaxation of social and cultural constraints on women in Muslim countries and China. The result, WHO predicts, will be a massive increase in smoking among women worldwide, from 187 million today to 532 million by 2025. The impact on world health will be serious, negatively affecting women’s health, child health, prenatal health, and income — especially in countries with already poor healthcare, poverty, and high rates of infant mortality.

Sources:

New York Times, World Health Organization