In the United States, 71% of smokers try their first cigarette when they are adolescents (Gold, Wang, Wypij, Speizer, Ware, & Dockery, 1996). Lung cancer kills more women than breast cancer in the United States, but breast cancer receives far more public attention. Data shows that only half of women who smoke have been encouraged by their primary care physician to stop smoking as it is considered to be their personal choice. More than 25 million women in the United States smoke and 25% of girls under the age of 18 smoke.
Women give the main reason for smoking as weight control. They are more concerned about their body image than their health. The best approach to end this phenomenon is to act early by convincing girls before the age of 10 to have a healthy image of their bodies and never start smoking. Low self-esteem is one of the main reasons for poor body image that encourages girls to start smoking in the first place.
Girls who have mothers that smoke are also at increased risk of smoking themselves. The best thing a mother could do for her daughter is to quit smoking. At the very least, a mother should talk to her daughter about the dangers of smoking and why it is so hard to quit. Mothers should emphasize to their daughters the importance of never starting smoking in the first place. This is essential if the mother is not going to be a positive role model and a non-smoker for her daughter (Meisler, 2001).
In doing so, mothers would help support a decision by the government in 1998 to get involved in marketing aimed at teens. It was considered to be inappropriate that although the minimum age to purchase tobacco products is 18, much of the advertising was apparently geared towards younger aged teens. To help combat this, the government enforced regulations such as ending the use of cartoon characters in tobacco advertising, marketing, and packaging; billboards for tobacco products were eliminated; there is no longer advertisments on public transpotation systems; and tobacco companies cannot distribute non-tobacco items that bear their brand or logo. If parents support the role that the governemtn has begun in limiting exposure to their own adolescents and also discuss the dangers of smoking and the consequesnces of addiction, fewer teens will begin to smoke initially (Biener & Albers, 2004).
Women who smoke also develop lung cancer at a rate 2 to 3 times higher than men who smoke the same amount. The reasons appear to be physiological. The main reasons are based on hormones and genetics. The substances that cause cancer are handled differently and female bodies than in male bodies. Women are also more likely to develop asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and bronchitis.
Lung cancer is a deadly disease. The five-year survival rate is only about 14%. 50% of patients that are receiving treatment for lung cancer today stop smoking over 20 years ago. Although quitting is beneficial to a woman's health, never smoking is the most beneficial trait of all. If the physician would spend 3 minutes talking to each patient about the health benefits not smoking or stop smoking millions of lives would be saved (Meisler, 2001).
Biener, L., & Albers, A. B. (2004). Young Adults: Vulnerable New Targets of Tobacco
Marketing. American Journal Of Public Health, 94(2), 326-330.
Gold, D. R., Wang, X., Wypij, D., Speizer, F. E., Ware, J. H., & Dockery, D. W. (1996). Effects
of cigarette smoking on lung function in adolescent boys and girls. New England Journal
Of Medicine, 335(13), 931. doi:10.1056/NEJM199609263351304
Meisler, J. (2001). Toward Optimal Health: The Experts Discuss Lung Cancer in
Women. Journal Of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine, 10(5), 423-427.