Since 1975, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout® (GASO), a public awareness event to encourage people to quit smoking, on the third Thursday of November. The 43rd annual GASO will be celebrated on Thursday, November 15, 2018.
Smoking and tobacco use pose a serious risk of death and disease for women. According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 201,770 women each year in the U.S. Are you at risk?
Facts About Women and Smoking
- The smoking rate for women in some racial/ethnic groups is higher than in others. For example, the 2016 smoking rate for American Indian/Alaska Native women was 34.8 percent while the rate for white women was 15.5 percent, for Hispanic women just 7.0 percent, and 5.6 percent for Asian American women.
- The smoking rate is also much higher for lesbian and bisexual women than for heterosexual women. In 2016, the smoking rate for women who identify as bisexual or lesbian was 17.9 percent compared to just 13.5 percent for women who identify as straight. This is likely the result of multiple factors including social stigma, discrimination and targeted marketing by the tobacco industry.
- Smoking is directly responsible for 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women in the U.S. each year.
- Female smokers are nearly 22 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, compared to women who never have smoked.
- Women who smoke also have an increased risk for developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and uterine cervix. They also double their risk for developing coronary heart disease.
- Postmenopausal women who smoke have lower bone density than women who never smoked. Women who smoke have an increased risk for hip fracture compared to never smokers. Cigarette smoking also causes premature aging of the skin.
Tobacco marketing aimed at women and teenagers
Be aware: the tobacco industry deliberately and extensively targets women in its advertising. These ads are dominated by themes associating cigarettes with social desirability, independence, weight control and having fun. Like most other advertisements, they often feature slim, attractive, and athletic models.
Sadly, the advertising is also directed at the under-18 female as well. Some teenage girls start smoking to avoid weight gain and others to identify themselves as independent and glamorous, both of which reflect themes promoted by the tobacco industry.
Ready to quit? Help is available
Quitting is hard. It takes commitment and starts with a plan, often takes more than one quit attempt. Getting help through counseling and/or prescription medications can double or triple your chances of quitting successfully. Support is also important.
Here are just two of the many organizations dedicated to helping women quit:
The National Cancer Institute has a quit-smoking app that allows users to set quit dates, track financial goals, schedule reminders, and more. It also offers a text messaging service that provides round-the-clock encouragement and advice to people trying to quit. You can sign up by texting “QUIT” to iQUIT (47848) and entering the date of your Quit Day – the day you will stop smoking.
The American Lung Association’s I Want to Quit program can also help you or a loved one quit smoking. The organization also has a Lung HelpLine, where you can get support and information on smoking cessation: 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).
Why not commit to stop smoking this month as part of the Great American Smokeout? It’s your first step toward breathing free.