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Tobacco + Coffee and Women Health

Marketing Tobacco: Why Teenage Girls Are Targeted

With all of the negative publicity about smoking, why do so many women and teenage girls continue to smoke? Teenagers vastly underestimate the addiction potential of nicotine. A woman who begins smoking when she is very young will have a very difficult time quitting as she ages and becomes more concerned with the health consequences. Studies show that most teenage girls who smoke want to quit, and 77% of them have tried.

It is well documented that there are social, political and economic forces that influence tobacco use, particularly among youth. Adolescents who smoke are generally less physically fit and have more respiratory illnesses than their nonsmoking peers. In addition, smoking by adolescents hastens the onset of lung function decline during late adolescence and early adulthood. Smoking by adolescents is also related to impaired lung growth, chronic coughing and wheezing.

A major factor influencing susceptibility to and initiation of smoking among girls is the tobacco industry’s long-standing (75 years or more) targeted marketing to women and girls. Tobacco marketers know that if they can hook children as users, these children are more likely to become lifelong customers.

Smoking woman

Smoking woman

The tobacco industry spends more than $11 billion dollars annually in the U.S. to advertise and promote its products, including print media advertising (cigarette ads are banned from television and radio); distribution of free samples, cents-off coupons, T-shirts and other giveaways; movie product placements; cultural programs; donations to a wide range of national and local organizations; and
political contributions to elected officials. Also, a study in late 2001 found that the more teenagers see actors smoking in films, the more likely they are to try cigarettes. This targeted marketing to teenage girls and women is dominated by themes portraying the desirability and independence of women who smoke.

These themes are conveyed through ads featuring thin, attractive, athletic models, images very much at variance with the serious health consequences experienced by so many women who smoke.

Women’s Greater Vulnerability to Tobacco

Some research has revealed that women might be more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine and have a slower metabolic clearance of nicotine from their bodies than men. Also, women seem to be more susceptible to the effects of tobacco carcinogens than men.
A recent survey of both men and women showed that women cite more emotional causes such as relief of stress, anxiety, anger or depression when asked the reasons why they smoke. One-third of both men and women in the survey also said that the longest they have been able to stop was for one week or less. Only one-fifth of both genders were successful for a year or more.

Tobacco risk factors

Tobacco risk factors

Smoking and Addiction

Nicotine is what keeps smokers addicted to tobacco, and it doesn’t take long to get hooked. Nicotine is one of the most powerful addictive drugs, yet it is also easily available and more socially accepted than other highly addictive substances. On a milligram by milligram comparison, nicotine is 10 times more addictive than heroin.

Nicotine is the addictive chemical in tobacco, however most of the negative health consequences of smoking are caused by the other 4,000 chemicals inhaled when tobacco products are burned. Carbon monoxide is also produced. It becomes attached to the red blood cells and decreases the oxygen available to the body tissues.

Nicotine’s effect on the central nervous system is what makes smoking pleasurable. Nicotine has a calming effect, and can relieve anxiety, boredom and irritability. Nicotine also has a stimulant effect, increasing alertness, improving concentration.

Within seven to 10 seconds of inhaling, your brain feels the effect of nicotine. Repeated inhalations maintain a steady blood level of nicotine. When you stop puffing the blood level goes down. You light up again to deliver more nicotine to the brain. Pretty soon your brain and body consider it normal for you to have a certain blood level of nicotine. When that level goes down you feel uncomfortable, irritable, unfocused. That’s withdrawal. Now you are addicted. You smoke to keep from going into withdrawal, and you may find yourself smoking more and more.

(From NWHRC – The National Women’s Health Resource Center)

Breasts and Coffee

Drinking more than three cups of coffee a day can apparently reduce the size of women’s breasts. But it also reduces the risk of cancer, researchers say. Swedish oncologist Dr Helena Jernstroem said a gene – which half of women have – could react and cause them to a drop a bra size. But she added: “Coffee-drinking women do not have to worry their breasts will shrink to nothing overnight. They will get smaller but the breasts aren’t just going to disappear”.


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