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Friday, May 28, 2010

Women smokers risk early death, cancer

As the World No Tobacco Day approaches, the United States (US)-based National Cancer Institute has warned that women who smoke have higher risks than non smokers of early death and of developing cancer and other diseases related to the heart and lungs.
Also, women who smoke have been causioned to desist from doing so as they may experience early menopause and irregular painful menstrual period.
According to a study by Inga Cecilie Soerheim and her colleagues from the University of Bergen, Norway, cigarette smoking is more harmful to women than to men because women have smaller airways.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 20 per cent of smokers are women.
Similarly, research has shown that most women that smoke are between the ages of 25 and 44. Besides, teenage women also make up a significant percentage, too.
Research has shown that smoking is hazardous for pregnant women. It affects the health of not only the mother but also the child.
Smoking during pregnancy may result in low birth weight, premature delivery and miscarriage. Smoking is also not advisable for those who are taking oral contraceptives because it increases the risk of stroke and heart attack in this group.
It is against this background that this year’s World No Tobacco Day that will be commemorated on Monday, March 31, has been stream lined to show how tobacco affects the female gender’s health. Although the World No Tobacco Day 2010 campaign will focuse on tobacco marketing to women, it will also take into account the need to protect boys and men from the tobacco companies’ tactics.
Smoking causes many health problems in women. It leads to irreparable damage to women’s health and to that of the people around them. A smoking habit may be difficult to break, but understanding the long-term damage may help overcome the addiction.
Apart from drawing particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls, the 2010 World No Tobacco Day will also highlight the need for the nearly 170 Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in accordance with their constitutions or constitutional principles.
Explaining why the programme should focus on women, the WHO in its 2007 report, Gender and Tobacco Control: a Policy Brief, stated, “Generic tobacco control measures may not be equally or similarly effective in respect to the two sexes…[A] gendered perspective must be included…It is therefore important that tobacco control policies recognise and take into account gender norms, differences and responses to tobacco in order to reduce tobacco use and improve the health of men and women worldwide”.
In another 2007 report, Sifting the Evidence: Gender and Tobacco Control, WHO commented, “Both men and women need full information about the sex-specific effects of tobacco use…equal protection from gendere-based advertising and marketing and the development of sex-specific tobacco products by transnational tobacco companies…[and] gender-sensitive information about, and protection from, second-hand smoke and occupational exposure to tobacco or nicotine”.

By Sola Omisore