TOBACCO use among girls and women worldwide is rising and threatens to become a global epidemic, a report released in July by the International Network of Women Against Tobacco found.
Although men's smoking rates have peaked and are slowly declining, if current trends continue, the proportion of female smokers could jump from 12 percent to 20 percent by 2025, according to the report.
"At this point, we have no clear evidence that this will stop without concerted effort," said Lorraine Greaves, the network president and executive director of the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women's Health. Greaves discussed the report during the July meeting of the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Washington, D.C.
The report found that tobacco use is becoming largely a problem of women who are marginalized due to factors such as social status, race, age, sexual orientation, disability and addiction. Poor women are also increasingly becoming smokers, the report found.
The report attributed the increase in female smokers primarily to marketing, through which advertisements often portray smoking as a path toward emancipation, health, beauty and slenderness, and to the increased tobacco production in developing countries. The report also faulted the growing use of tobacco product placement in the movies.
The report recommended targeting programs and policies specifically at women, including classroom education, women's support groups, door-to-door campaigns and public service announcements.
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