Approximately 176 million adult women worldwide are daily smokers. In the U.S., 17.7 million females over the age of 15 are daily smokers, and 8.5% of girls in the U.S. age 15-19 smoke.
Big tobacco specifically targets women and girls with advertising that attempts to show smoking as glamorous and to portray smokers as independent, successful, and thin. Women often smoke or continue smoking in order to lose or control weight. Big Tobacco is well aware of this and many companies have had advertising campaigns focused on weight.
Advertising that targets women and girls often highlights smoking as glamorous, sophisticated, or sexy, all of which are particularly attractive to teenagers. Obviously, what is considered sexy or cool has changed dramatically over time, but tobacco companies have kept up with the trends, as a way to attract younger consumers. These ads are often found in magazines, many with youth readership like People, Time, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly.
Big tobacco has even capitalized on women’s rights movements and gender equality.
Tobacco companies go beyond just ads in an attempt to target girls. Many products, packaging, and flavors are designed to lure in female smokers, often in shades of pink. Big tobacco also sponsors parties and giveaways.
Tobacco advertising campaigns are targeted at girls early and often, at the cash register, in magazines, and at parties. These advertisements, promotions, and sponsorships have a deadly effect: each year, more than 200,000 women in the U.S. and 1.5 million women around the world die from tobacco related diseases.