global outrage, global resistance
As the responses to last month's question underscore, the tobacco industry
targets, uses, abuses, and kills women around the world in many, many
ways. Women who harvest tobacco often develop Green Tobacco Sickness and
lose their food security (Kenya). An 18-year-old student describes her
experience as a walking advertisement for multinational cigarette brands
(Ukraine). Asian American women are disproportionately exposed to tobacco
smoke pollution at home and on the job (USA). A female character in an
Asian film chain smokes Marlboro (Taiwan).
The good news is that
the resistance is growing. Tough tobacco control legislation has helped
keep smoking rates among women very low (Thailand). An edgy website has
been launched to expose and attack the industry's targeting of women (Canada).
Hardhitting, heartwrenching ads in women magazines feature the last letters
that a woman dying of emphysema writes to her family (USA).
Around the world,
the tobacco industry markets female emancipation through the cigarette.
Let's emancipate women and girls from the tobacco industry!
& TOBACCO: GLOBAL OUTRAGE, GLOBAL RESISTANCE
Responses, in alphabetical
order by country:
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
- Ajnija Omanic, Medical Faculty
University in Sarajevo
The tobacco industry is in a campaign to globalize smoking among women
in B & H. The tobacco industry promotes smoking as a symbol of "female
emancipation." Cigarette use may be becoming a way for young women
to show that they are modern, and may also help them obtain the body images
of extreme slimness portrayed on TV and in popular magazines. The main
messages are smoking makes women thinner [and] independent. In B &
H, prevalence of smoking among the population is 53% for men and 38% for
women. The prevalence of smoking among nurses (Tuzla, 1995) is 58.3%.
Alphonse ISSI, MNC Cameroon
In our country, the tobacco industry simply targets all young people -
male and female alike. There is are no campaigns that target women in
particular. On our part, we try to thwart promotion of tobacco by targeting
young people with campaigns against tobacco advertising and sponsorship
of sports popular with youth.
CANADA - BAD GIRLS
TAKE ON BIG TOBACCO
On May 13, 2002 a Canadian-based group launched an edgy website to counter
the tobacco industry's targeting of women. An excerpt from their press
(Ottawa) - Sluts
Against Butts, a group of women bent on holding the tobacco industry
responsible for the death, disease, and addiction it causes, today announced
the launch of their website.
What do sluts have to do with smoking?
"Tobacco companies see rebellious girls and women as easy targets
for marketing campaigns," said Lara Lola. "We're here to tell
them that bad girls can't be bought."
"The tobacco industry
knows that women want to be independent, so they market smoking as an
act of liberation," added fellow slut Roxy Sabre. "But there's
nothing liberating about being suckered by a multinational company -
especially one whose products make you dependent and weak."
The site features incriminating
ads and quotes from tobacco execs and downloadable tools for subverting
them, as well as polls, quizzes, an alias generator, and other fun stuff.
Submitted by: Neil
Collishaw, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
- Doug Blanke, William Mitchell College of Law (USA - MN)
"Derby" empowers women to beat men in arm-wrestling contests?
IRAN - Nizal
Saraf-Zadegan, Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Center
The Center just finished a research project and public awareness program
entitled "A Comprehensive Tobacco Control and Prevention Program
Among Iranian Women and Adolescent"
KENYA - Joe
Asila, SocialNEEDS Network
Tobacco agriculture has multiple adverse impacts on women, who form the
core of farm and leaf factory labor: poor health, environmental degradation
& pollution, labor exploitation, and reduced food security. Body contact
with green leaves during harvesting can result in Green Tobacco Sickness,
with symptoms such as vomiting, dizziness, and skin irritation. Pregnant
women who complain risk being fired. Since unemployment is high, tobacco
companies often infringe upon the rights of workers.
Tobacco cultivation leads to deforestation.
As the surrounding forests get chopped down for tobacco-farming purposes,
women have to go further and further to gather wood for cooking. The farmer,
his wife and the children are so engaged in tending the farm during the
cycle of tobacco farming that there is scarcely any time to spare for
In one survey, a farmer earned Ksh. 200,000/=
(USD 3,000) after having worked in the farm for 10 months with his wife
and four children. This is not enough money to provide for food, education,
shelter, and medical services, as well as savings. The result is that
education, medical services and savings are often forgone to concentrate
on food and shelter. Child labour and school dropout is common in tobacco
growing zones -- especially among girls.
SENEGAL & TAIWAN:
WOMEN & TOBACCO IN FILM
The recent Taiwanese film "Millennium Mambo," which features
a chain-smoking female, is one long advertisement for Marlboro Lights.
The main character literally cannot eat her dinner without inhaling a
Marlboro between bites. Marlboro product placement is rampant throughout.
A film targeting Asian females? And in the recent Senegalese film "Faatu
Kine," which features a strong, independent woman who runs a successful
gas station in Dakar, smoking is used to symbolize modernity and female
emancipation. Several scenes involve conversations related to smoking.
In one, Faatu Kine's elderly mother chides her for smoking, reinforcing
smoking as a modern woman's habit.
For more info:
SEA Alliance Support - ASH Thailand
Luckily, we do not have any significant advertising targeting women in
Thailand. Thailand's strong tobacco control laws and active tobacco control
movement have helped to keep women's smoking prevalence down in contrast
to other countries in Asia. However the increasing presence of the transnational
tobacco companies in Thailand is already seeing an impact on smoking rates
amongst young women. Young Thai women are increasingly attracted to western
cigarette brands, especially to Marlboro and also menthol and 'light'
cigarettes. Young women feel that imported cigarettes are more sophisticated
and 'upper class' than local cigarettes.
In the last 2 years, smoking rates among
Thai women have increased from 0.3% to 0.6%. We know that Thai women are
a largely untapped market to the tobacco industry. In order to reinforce
the traditional non-smoking values of Thai women the "New-generation
Women Don't Smoke" programme was set up in 1995. It aims to counter
the tobacco companies efforts to get women to take up smoking. The project
focuses on the effects of smoking on beauty and on childrens' health.
& more info about ASH Thailand's women-focused campaigns.
UKRAINE - Lisa
Houston, Ukrainian State Maritime Technical University
Recently Lisa interviewed Viktoria Pleskachova, an 18-year-old student
of the Ukrainian State Maritime Technical University. In the summer of
2001, Vika advertised cigarettes on the main pedestrian street in Nikolayev.
She dressed in stylish clothing provided by the cigarette manufacturer
and approached passersby, trying to persuade them to trade the pack of
cigarettes they were smoking for a full pack of the brand she was offering.
Here's an excerpt:
Q. What company
did you work for?
V. Mostly JTI Japan Tobacco International, and there were also
Santa Carlo cigarettes, Winston.
Q. And the young men and women that worked with you; were they also
about your age?
V. Yes, everyone was about 18 years of age since its illegal to
work if one is younger, but in general they try to attract young women
to work for them.
Q. What did you think of the uniform you were supposed to wear?
V. I didnt really like the uniform for Monte Carlo, the hats were
. We wore hats, t-shirts, backpacks
Q. Did anyone ever come up and hassle you about advertising cigarettes?
V. There was one woman from some kind of health center that came up
and lectured me that Im so pretty and could have found myself
a better job, but I told her, Offer me a better job that pays
well that also makes allowances for my studies, and Ill agree!
And there were a lot of other people as well, mostly elderly people,
who were loudly against my selling cigarettes
but I left that job,
I dont do it anymore.
Q. Was it because of that, or was that one of the reasons?
V. Well, the thing is, I agreed with that lady. Therefore, how can I
contradict her? I agree that its better not to smoke. Thats
why I would say that its just my job; its just how Im
photo and full interview
URUGUAY - Adriana
Menendez, Sindicato Medico del Uruguay
We are pained to admit that we have not dealt specifically with the tobacco
advertising assault directed at women. In particular, the brand "Montana"
seems to target women with deceptive advertising. As for concrete actions
that we are taking in our country, we have begun working on a campaign
to prohibit all tobacco advertising. We know it won't be easy, and that
the "stones" will come from many directions. We feel that this
is a special historical moment. Probably in the future, we will call on
GPTC members who are in this struggle worldwide to support our campaign.
USA - CA -
Karen Rezai, Association of
Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Since rates of tobacco use of AAPI women here in the U.S. are traditionally
lower than AAPI males, they are seen as an area of potential "growth"
for the industry. The Virginia Slims "Find Your Voice" campaign
ads featured an Asian woman with heavy face paint and silk robes. The
message was that women can become acculturated by smoking, but also maintain
"traditional" parts of their heritage. Excerpt from APPEAL publication:
Michael Chang, who has played in tobacco sponsored tournaments, is a
teen idol among AAPI girls, and a symbol of athletic influence and Western
lifestyle. Cigarette ads and brands, such as Virginia Slims and Newport
Lights, also associate smoking with thinness, sex appeal, empowerment,
and an escape from the multiple demands placed on AAPI women by their
families and society.
AAPI women occupy a higher proportion
of service-industry jobs and are less able to control the smoke in their
environment at home and at work. Waitresses are four times as likely
to die from lung cancer and 2.5 times as likely to die from heart disease
compared to other women.
And since many AAPI males smoke, their
spouses and families are also impacted. AAPI women with spouses who
smoke are at an increased risk for disease and death resulting from
secondhand smoke." See
Targets Women Smokers by Wendy Melillo (AdWeek, May 7, 2002)
- NEW LEGACY CAMPAIGN TARGETING WOMEN
For the first time, The American Legacy Foundation will target adult women
smokers in a new campaign that is set to break in June issues of womens'
magazines. Based on a true story, the first ad in the campaign, "Letters,"
features a woman dying of emphysema who writes farewell letters to family
members and tobacco companies. In the work, Linda, a New York woman, writes
three letters. "We're running out of tomorrows," she writes
to her three children. "I'm so proud of you." To her husband,
she writes, "I'm so sorry my smoking will cheat us out of 20 or 30
more years together." To tobacco companies: "We know you are
in this for the money. We are in it for our lives and the lives of our
loved ones. And we will win!" To read about the women featured in
the campaign go to:
USA: PHILIP MORRIS
USES "PHILANTHROPY" TO SILENCE WOMEN'S OPPOSITION
From the Philip Morris website: "Every year, we contribute millions
of dollars to hundreds of domestic violence service providers across the
United States to strengthen the safety net available to the victims and
survivors of this horrible crime." [If Philip Morris REALLY cared
about women, we all know what the company could do...] Straight to the
USA: from [doc-alert]
RJR: Marketing to women (June 4, 2002)
These notes from an RJR marketing meeting list various ideas for new cigarette
designs, including Project HIP, a cigarette tailored especially to appeal
to women, whose advertising would depict "Female
aggressor in male/female situation." The cigarette ad campaign would
"position women as independent and in control in provocative situations,"
"exploit the anti-fashion trend," and possibly have "pearlescent
filter tipping." The cigarette would be "built for the way women
smoke -- e.g. smaller, more frequent puffs." Even the pack would
be especially adapted for women: "Use a slide pack -- more elegant
ritual to remove cigarette." URL: http://tobaccodocuments.org/landman/506656657-6667.html#images
Source: Anne Landman
Andjelka Dzeletovic, Institute
of Public Health of Serbia
For now there is no specific campaign targeting the female population
Yugoslavia. In the next months I'm planning on analyzing data regarding
tobacco and women. In Yugoslavia, there are big problems related to
second hand smoking. There is also a big problem with women smoking
during pregnancy. One of the next actions in Serbia should target the
two previously mentioned problems.
U.S. Surgeon General's
Report: Women and Smoking 2001
Network of Women Against Tobacco (INWAT)