Letter: Tobacco-related diseases kill women at alarming rate

From: Lynn Ramberg

Columbus Regional Hospital

As we celebrated the anniversary of women’s right to vote on Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day, we needed to draw attention to the effect of tobacco-related diseases on women.

  • Lung cancer has surpassed breast cancer as a leading killer of women.
  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke increase the risk of heart disease, which kills one of three women in the United States.
  • Babies born to women who smoke and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are at greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and other chronic lung diseases.

It is not by accident that tobacco use has increased to the point of creating an epidemic among American women. Since the 1960s, tobacco advertising has linked women’s liberation with smoking, beginning with “You’ve come a long way, baby,” and now proclaiming that, “It’s a woman thing.”

The tobacco companies also have developed slick advertising campaigns that glamorize smoking and that connect cigarettes with thinness. The Federal Trade Commission’s annual report on tobacco advertising revealed that the tobacco industry spent $8.8 billion on advertising and promotion in 2011. This represents more than $24 million per day.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a number of publications that explain the risks of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and the benefits of quitting. These include the:

  • 2014 Surgeon General’s Report.
  • The Health Consequences of Smoking — 50 Years of Progress.
  • the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults.
  • 2010 Surgeon General’s Report, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease.

Each report also has a companion Consumer Guide that provides an illustrated, easy-to-understand summary of the major findings of the report.

Also, women.smokefree.gov/ provides information and resources for women who want help to quit smoking. Encourage someone you love to quit today.