Third World women--the invisible tobacco users.
Health policy makers have been slow to recognize the devastating effects of cigarette smoking on women in the Third World.
This situation is largely a result of 4 fallacious beliefs:
1) smoking is a bigger problem for men than for women;
2) everyone smokes for the same reasons, so there is no need for a special focus on women;
3) more men than women suffer from smoking-induced diseases; and
4) the rise of the modern women's movement is responsible for the current smoking epidemic in developed countries.
Although accurate data are not available, women's smoking rates in developing countries often equal those for women in developed countries. In addition, women's death rates from smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and cervical cancer are increasing.
Women, more than men, appear to use smoking as a means of suppressing negative emotions and dealing with stress. Moreover, female smokers see themselves as more dependent on cigarettes than men and are less confident about quitting successfully.
The tobacco industry's advertising exploits women's desire for independence, power, and emancipation to sell a product that, in reality, means dependence and ill health. The longterm solution to the problem of cigarette smoking is for governments to ban tobacco promotion. In the interim, women's issues should form an integral part of any smoking control program, and women should be involved at every level of program implementation