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Tobacco Companies Increase Marketing To Women In Developing Countries

Agence France-Presse examines a trend among tobacco firms targeting ads toward women in developing countries: “Advertisements telling smokers they are smarter, more energetic and better lovers than their non-smoking counterparts are a familiar sight across Bangladesh – something unimaginable in most other countries,” the news service writes. Health experts worry that such advertisements may be behind a rise in the numbers of Bangladeshi women using tobacco.

According to WHO, in Bangladesh, “43 percent of the adult population – or 41 million people – use tobacco in some form, up from 37 percent in 2004. … The country fits a pattern emerging across the region of rising rates of female tobacco use, particularly in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia,” AFP writes.

It’s a trend “[t]obacco companies are encouraging …, viewing women in developing countries as their ‘largest unexploited market’, according to the WHO – which has chosen the theme of tobacco marketing to women for 2010 No Tobacco Day on May 31.”

The piece includes comments by WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan, a company spokesperson from British American Tobacco and several people in Bangladesh (Barton, 4/29).