Women and smoking

Br Med Bull. 1996 Jan;52(1):74-89. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.bmb.a011534.


Smoking kills over half a million women each year and is the most important preventable cause of female premature death in several developed countries. However, in many countries, cigarette smoking still tends to be regarded as a mainly male problem. This paper explores the reasons why more attention needs to be paid to issues around smoking and women, even in countries which currently have low levels of female cigarette smoking. The article includes an overview of current patterns and trends of smoking among women, and the factors which influence smoking uptake and cessation in women compared to men. The experience of countries with the longest history of widespread female smoking is used to identify some of the key challenges facing developed and developing countries. Tobacco companies have identified women as a key target group, therefore particular attention is given to the ways in which they have attempted to reach women through advertising and other marketing strategies. It is concluded that in order to halt and ultimately reverse the tobacco epidemic among women, tobacco control policies need to encompass both gender-specific and gender-sensitive approaches. Examples are given of the types of action that are needed in relation to research, public policy and legislation, and education.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Prevalence
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking / trends
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women*