Monday, March 7. 2011
Women who live in countries that encourage female empowerment are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those in developing nations, according to a recent study from the World Health Organization.
An analysis of 74 countries discovered men are five times more likely than women to smoke in traditionally male-dominated societies such as Pakistan, Indonesia and China. However, in countries that promote gender equality, like the United States, Australia and Norway, the gap was almost nonexistent, as women smoked about as much as men.
WHO said women are less likely to smoke because many cultures stigmatize the act and believe female smokers are less respectable. As women become more empowered - measured by data such as representation in parliament, voting rights and income - the social disapproval begins to fade.
Women in some developing countries are beginning to smoke more, reported WHO, saying they are prime targets for cigarette advertising.
"Strong tobacco control measures such as bans on tobacco advertising are needed to prevent the tobacco industry from targeting women," wrote the study's authors.
While the dangers of cigarettes smoking is practically common knowledge in the United States, the American Lung Association reports the gap between female and male smokers has become significantly smaller over the years, a statistic that may increase health insurance premiums for women.
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