Q: Which demographic of women consumes the most tobacco products?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Unfortunately, low income, those with mental health disorders, and women of color tend to be the most active smokers. These are also those at a higher risk of other issues, such as obesity and heart disease. They are also the group least likely to understand the full scope of health effects associated with tobacco, and especially that of cigarettes.
Q: How much of a danger is smoking to women?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Smoking is a serious concern. Not only does it increase a woman’s risk of developing lung cancer, it can also lead to more serious respiratory tract disorders, skin conditions, and may even encourage overeating. Smoking numbs the senses, and a woman may eat more to compensate for a lack of ability to taste food as well as someone who does not smoke.
Q: Why have women begun smoking more over the last half-century?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are a few different reasons. One is a rise in women’s independence. However, clever marketing has a lot to do with it as well. Up until 1964, cigarettes were targeted largely to men. However, that year, the Surgeon General’s report caused a sharp decline in male cigarette purchases. It did not take long for cigarette manufacturers to begin using things like pastel colors and sporty imagery to attract its new, feminine demographic.
Q: How can a woman quit smoking?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are many different methods. Cold turkey, where a woman simply does not smoke anymore, is one, but it may not be very effective. Because nicotine is an addictive drug, a smoking cessation program with a gradual reduction in exposure may be ideal.