Endgame Training Course

Close this search box.

Protecting Women’s Rights | International Women’s Day

Reproductive rights. Protection from gender-based violence. Maternity leave. Workplace discrimination.  These are the topics that usually come to mind when one thinks about women’s rights. But one important protection is often left off of the list – tobacco control.

Tobacco negatively impacts women in myriad ways. A few examples include:

Women’s Health

In the last 50 years, a woman’s risk of dying from smoking has more than tripled and is now equal to men’s risk. Smoking puts women at risk for: heart attacks; strokes; lung cancer; emphysema; reproductive issues; and other serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Between 1959 and 2010, lung cancer risk for smokers rose dramatically. While men’s risk doubled, the risk among female smokers increased nearly ten-fold. Today, more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer.[1]

Secondhand Smoke

Globally, women are still the main victims of secondhand smoke, and more women than men are harmed or die from secondhand smoke.  In fact, “In women, the disease burden from secondhand smoke exposure is equal to or even exceeds that from firsthand tobacco use.”[2]


Tobacco is very expensive for the user and their partner or family. World Bank studies of household disposable income estimate that approximately 10% of income in the poorest households containing at least one smoker goes to tobacco.[3] Smoking increases the likelihood of falling into poverty.


ASH works to ensure that tobacco control is included in the women’s rights and human rights agenda- and vice versa.

Thank you for your support as we continue our efforts to break down silos and work towards a tobacco-free world for everyone. You can make a donation today to support our work here>

Donate Now


[1] https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/50th-anniversary/pdfs/fs_women_smoking_508.pdf

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016041202200068X

[3] Mentis AA. Social determinants of tobacco use: towards an equity lens approach. Tob Prev Cessat. 2017;3:7. Published 2017 Mar 2. doi:10.18332/tpc/68836