World No Tobacco Day targets women, girls

Mon May 31, 2010 12:52pm EDT
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By Michael Perry

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - World No Tobacco Day kicked off on Monday aimed at women and girl smokers with posters warning "Chic? No, throat cancer", as health officials said tobacco firms were targeting young women as they became affluent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) theme for the global anti-smoking day is "gender and tobacco" and the harmful effects of tobacco marketing and smoking on women and girls.

WHO said tobacco firms are spending heavily on alluring marketing campaigns targeting women as they gain spending power and independence, particularly in Asia's booming economies.

It is estimated that more than 8 percent of girls between 13 and 15, or around 4.7 million girls, are using tobacco products in the Asia-Pacific region, said the WHO.

Indian doctors said there had been a considerable increase in women smoking, especially among young college girls, attributing the rise to stress, peer pressure and high disposable incomes.

"It's a cause of concern that literate women in sectors like business, girls from the higher strata of the society are getting addicted to the habit," Dr Pradyut Waghre at Apollo Hospitals told The Times of India newspaper.

Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world, currently responsible for the death of one in 10 adults worldwide, or about 5 million deaths each year, said the WHO.

Women make up about 20 percent of the world's 1 billion smokers, but if current tobacco usage continues smoking will kill 8 million people a year by 2030 -- 2.5 million will be women.   Continued...

<p>A woman walks past a "No Smoking" sign in Nice, southeastern France, February 12, 2007. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>