Although women account for only about 20 percent of the world’s 1.3 billion smokers, tobacco use among women is on the rise. Particularly troubling is new data from three countries —Bangladesh, Thailand, and Uruguay—indicating greater exposure to cigarette marketing among young women (ages 15 to 24) than older women, according to a CDC study.
In Bangladesh, exposure to bidi cigarettes (80.1 percent) and smokeless tobacco (69.9 percent) marketing was widespread among women and did not vary by age. Bidi cigarettes are hand rolled cigarettes made of tobacco that are primarily used in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.
Launched in 2007, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) is a nationally representative household survey of persons ages 15 years and older being implemented in 14 countries around the world. Bangladesh, Thailand and Uruguay are the first three countries for which 2009 data is available. Before GATS, no one standard global survey for adults has consistently tracked tobacco use and other tobacco control measures.
“Tobacco kills more people each year than HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, and tobacco deaths are increasing steadily,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “The results of these surveys show one of the key reasons for the tobacco epidemic – marketing, including to women and girls. Countries around the world should establish and enforce comprehensive bans on advertising, sponsorship, and promotion of tobacco products,” he said.
Other report highlights:
- In Bangladesh, 1.5 percent of women are current smokers, compared with 44.7 percent of men, while the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use is similar for men and women (26.4 percent and 27.9 percent, respectively)
- In Thailand, 3.1 percent of women are current smokers, compared with 45.6 percent of men, while the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use is 6.3 percent for women, compared with 1.3 percent for men.
- In Uruguay, 19.8 percent of women are current smokers, compared with 30.7 percent of men. Uruguay has almost no smokeless tobacco use.
“Monitoring the global tobacco epidemic is essential to measuring the impact of tobacco control policies and interventions,” said Samira Asma, D.D.S., M.P.H., Chief, Global Tobacco Control Branch, CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The Global Adult Tobacco Survey is critical to our understanding of tobacco use worldwide.”
To effectively combat the tobacco epidemic, the World Health Organization recommends MPOWER, a technical assistance package that requires monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies, protecting people from tobacco smoke, offering help to quit tobacco smoking, warning about the dangers of tobacco, enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and raising taxes on tobacco.
The World Health Organization (WHO) created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. The theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day—which takes place on May 31—is “gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women.”
Funding for GATS is provided by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use and is conducted in partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, CDC Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, World Health Organization, and the World Lung Foundation. Other participating countries are Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.
For an online version of the MMWR report, please visit www.cdc.gov/mmwr. For information on World No Tobacco Day, visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco, and for additional information and materials, including posters, visit WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative at http://www.who.int/tobacco/en/.
Contact: Division of News and Electronic Media