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Surveys Find Increased Awareness About Tobacco Marketing Among Young Women In Bangladesh, Thailand, Uruguay

“With half of all men in some developing countries already hooked on cigarettes, the tobacco industry is now courting lucrative new customers – young women,” according to a report published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Associated Press/Los Angeles Times reports.

As documented in the MMWR, nationwide surveys conducted by the CDC and health officials of more than 9,600 people in Bangladesh, 20,500 in Thailand and 5,580 in Uruguay found “females aged 15 to 24 were more aware of tobacco marketing than older women, suggesting that advertising is directed at them,” the news service writes. “The results showed that in Bangladesh and Thailand, about 45 percent of men smoke, compared to 2 percent or 3 percent of women, respectively. In Uruguay, the gap was smaller with 31 percent of males versus 20 percent of females” (Mason, 5/27).

The report provides the first analysis of data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) created to “examine differences in tobacco use and awareness of tobacco marketing by sex,” according to the report. The surveys were conducted in 14 countries in total, including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.

“Historically, the tobacco industry has taken advantage of increasingly liberalized social attitudes toward women and increased economic empowerment of women to aggressively market and sell its products,” the MMWR report notes.” In the absence of effective tobacco control policies, this pattern might repeat itself in low- and middle-income countries, resulting in a rise in tobacco use and tobacco-related disease and death” (5/28).

“WHO has estimated that the rate of female smokers worldwide will double by 2025, from about 9 percent in 2007,” the AP/Los Angeles Times continues. “The current male smoking rate of about 40 percent has peaked and is slowly starting to decline.”

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day 2010, scheduled for May 31, the WHO on Thursday, “called on countries to strengthen tobacco controls to protect young girls and women from exposure and addiction to tobacco, which kills an estimated 5 million people every year globally,” the news service adds (5/27).

The topic of tobacco marketing to women will be the focus of World Tobacco Day 2010, Newsbreak/ABS-CBN News.com reports, in a piece that examines the rise in tobacco use among women in the Philippines. The article details several efforts made by the country aimed at driving down tobacco use, including the use of picture-based health warnings on tobacco products and a “Department of Health (DOH) administrative order mandated measures that would prohibit the promotion of tobacco use through packaging and labeling” (Llaguno, 5/28).

Daily Monitor also reports on trends in tobacco use among Ugandan women. The article notes plans for a “law to prohibit the marketing of tobacco” (Namaganda, 5/27).