Tobacco Use among Women: 10 Interesting Facts

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

Dr. Howell

Who tend to smoke more, men or women? Are there differences between the smoking patterns between them? Do they need different quit strategies? Let’s find out.

10 Facts on Gender and Tobacco

More men smoke than women. Globally, about 40 percent of the male population smoke, while only 9 percent in the female population do (or about 200 million in 100 billion smokers). Nevertheless, studies suggest that the rate of smoking among women is on the rise.

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1.5 million women die from smoking every year. There are over 5 million people worldwide who die due to smoking-related diseases every year. Of them, around 1.5 million are women. Population-based studies revealed that 75 percent of these women are from low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO, unless urgent action is taken, smoking could cause up to 8 million deaths yearly by 2030, of which 2.5 million would be women.

Smoking rates among girls are almost the same with that of boys. A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that similar number of girls and boys smoke in majority of countries surveyed. Several studies suggest that most of these girls and boys will continue to smoke into adulthood.

A lot of girls smoke to control weight gain. Many studies have shown that generally, women have low self-esteem than boys. A lot of women, particularly the younger ones, are encouraged to smoke because of the false belief that it can help them avoid weight gain, while many of those who smoke don’t quit because they are afraid to gain weight.

Tobacco ads are often targeted to women. It seems that tobacco companies are still not contented of the revenues they get from the gentlemen so they still do everything to hook women into smoking – more women! Most of their richly-funded campaigns link tobacco use to beauty, sexiness, prestige, sense of ‘coolness’ and freedom.

Smoking harms women differently. Women who smoke are more likely to suffer from a wide range of health problems, such as infertility, pregnancy issues like delay in conceiving, premature delivery, SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), stillbirth, and low baby birth weight. Smoking also increases their risk of cervix cancer.


Most female smokers use “light cigarettes”. Many smokers are made to believe that “light” cigarettes are less harmful and safer to use than regular tobacco products. But there’s lack of evidence supporting this claim. All cigarettes are the same – they are all harmful to health. And as experts say, there is no ‘safe’ level of tobacco smoke. What’s more, because they have ‘milder’ flavor, smokers tend to inhale more deeply and more frequently to absorb the desired amount of nicotine.

DID YOU KNOW?

Each year, second-hand smoke kills 430 000 people worldwide, of which 64 percent are women.

Women constitute 64 percent of deaths from second-hand smoke. Each year, second-hand smoke kills 430 000 people worldwide, of which 64 percent are women. Encouraging smokers to quit may not be enough to cut the rising rates of smoking-related deaths. More comprehensive anti-smoking laws may be necessary.

Women who smoke should try hard not to affect non-smokers. People who smoke also expose their family, friends and loved ones to the dangers of smoking. There’s no easier way to protect others from second-hand smoke but to completely stop smoking.

Targeted quit control strategies should be provided to women. Quit smoking programs and tobacco prevention strategies should be integrated to the health services provided to women. Furthermore, more awareness campaigns must be carried out to help women understand the risks associated with tobacco use and how they can stay away from it.

Unless serious steps are taken by the government, health authorities, and the public, the rising rate of tobacco use will continue to destroy more lives. If you want to quit smoking today and need help, contact a local smoking cessation specialist or your trusted doctor to know what your smoking cessation options are.



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