Tobacco Marketing a Sad Part of Women’s History

March is Women’s History Month, which recognizes the accomplishments of women throughout history. This event is meaningful to many of us who have women that we admire, from our own families and friends to television icons; for example, Mary Tyler Moore, who has just been remembered and honored for her personal life, acting career and contributions to society.

Unfortunately, Mary Tyler Moore grew up in an era when smoking was popular in style and when it seemed like almost everyone was smoking. However, the thing that is less exciting about this period of time is that she was a smoker, like so many others during her lifetime and many women today.

Over the last 50 years, a woman’s risk of dying from smoking has more than tripled and is now equal to a man’s risk. This is not a coincidence. A smoking marketing tactic used to make smoking more appealing to women was the cigarettes were skinny. The message given was if you smoked that product, you would be slim, too. “That makes me feel angry. The heath facts were not shared with the consumer, instead, an image was correlated to the harmful product”, says Judy Sargent, R.N., Public Health Nurse, Lincoln County Health Department.

Today, women are still being targeted by tobacco companies. Twenty million women and girls in the United States currently smoke and more than 170,000 women die of tobacco-related diseases annually. Women most likely to smoke are those with low income, low education, and behavioral health issues. Research also shows that women who smoke while pregnant can deliver premature babies with health issues.

This part of women’s history doesn’t need to be repeated. We have resources that are available for women to quit. They are the QUIT LINE (1-800-QUIT NOW) and If you would like more information and/or if you would like to get involved locally with the Northwoods Tobacco Free Coalition (NWTFC), contact Judy Sargent, R.N., Public Health Nurse, Lincoln County Health Department and NWTFC member, at 715-539-1377.

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