More and more women have began smoking in the last few decades. One of the reasons is savvy marketing as Don tells us in this Moment of Science.
Every day in the United States, about 1500 girls begin smoking. Tobacco kills more than 140,000 women each year, and half of those women are between the ages of thirty-five and sixty-nine. Although tobacco companies advertise some cigarettes as "light," this is just an advertising ploy to obscure the risks associated with smoking--smoking a light cigarette is just as risky as smoking a regular one. In fact, research shows that people who smoke light cigarettes actually smoke differently in order to get higher levels of nicotine.
The one thing you can say about tobacco companies is that they are really savvy about marketing. While tobacco ads that target men focus on cigarettes as macho or cool, tobacco ads that target women focus on social and political themes important to women. For example, ads will say that you've come a long way, or that you've found your voice, or encourage you to just be yourself, as if smoking has anything to do with progress and self-expression.
Young women are especially vulnerable to these ads because addiction, disease, and premature death seem so remote to them. And the thing is, people who have smoked as few as one hundred cigarettes report having difficulty quitting.