Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Feminizing" Cigarettes: There They Go Again

A new report details the tobacco industry's latest attempts at “feminizing” cigarettes to attract a whole new generation of female smokers. Wrapping cigarettes in pretty colors and packaging them like cosmetics don’t change the facts. In the U.S., more than 20 million adult women and more than 1.5 million girls currently smoke cigarettes, putting them at risk for heart attacks, stroke, lung cancer, emphysema and other life-threatening illnesses. Each year more than 170,000 women die from smoking-caused diseases.

Deadly in Pink: Big Tobacco Steps Up Its Targeting of Women and Girls traces the history of tobacco company efforts to woo females that began in the 1920s, stepped up with the creation of Virginia Slims and continues today. The report, authored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Action network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, highlights the latest marketing assault on girls and women spearheaded by Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds.

What can be done to prevent the devastating consequences for women’s heath? Passing federal legislation giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products will crack down on marketing that makes tobacco products appealing to children; ban misleading health claims such as “light” and “low tar” that have often been targeted to women; stop tobacco companies from manipulating their products in ways that increase addiction and harm; and require larger health warnings that better inform consumers and reduce effectiveness of the cigarette pack as a marketing tool.


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