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Women and girls are losing the Tobacco War-and their lives!
by Marion E. Gold

At this very moment, the number of tobacco victims has risen to more than 2.5 million. Women and girls pay the highest price-with women who smoke running as much as six times the risk of having a heart attack as nonsmoking women-a far greater risk than in men. Women who smoke also increase their risk of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke, reproductive disorders, emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Fact: According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Office of Women's Health, women who smoke increase their risk of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke, reproductive disorders, emphysema, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Fact: Women and children who do not smoke are not spared. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 700 million, or almost half of the world's children, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly at home. Environmental tobacco smoke-ETS or secondhand smoke-is a significant cause of heart disease and is estimated to be the cause of 35,000 to 62,000 deaths among nonsmokers from heart disease in the United States each year.

Tobacco companies are growing more and more aggressive. Women are bombarded with print ads in magazines that depend on that revenue. These same magazines, even those that proclaim to focus on women's health, have been shown less likely to publish articles on the dangers of smoking.

Non-Profit organizations that work to eliminate domestic violence and house its victims are also falling prey to Tobacco marketers by becoming more and more dependent on its funding. How ironic that women who are victims of domestic violence are now becoming financially dependent on another type of abuser-tobacco manufacturers.

If the Philip Morris Companies were really interested in saving women's lives, they would stop manufacturing, advertising and selling tobacco products around the world - instead of hiding behind a false cloak of corporate citizenship while they lure young people and women into addiction.

The overall result of this onslaught is that by the year 2025, the number of women smokers worldwide is expected to triple to more than 600 million.

Women and children who do not smoke are not spared. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 700 million, or almost half of the world's children, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly at home. In Norway, environmental or secondhand smoke was associated with an increased risk for low birth weight babies; in the Xi'an province of China, nonsmoking women had a 24% increased incidence of coronary heart disease if their husbands smoked, and an 85% increased incidence if they were exposed to passive smoke at work.

Given the tobacco industry's long history of subverting public health initiatives, it will be vital for all of us, individually and within our organizations and women's networks to speak out loud and clear. Cancel subscriptions to magazines that carry tobacco ads, and let them know why! As hard as it seems, stop giving volunteer time and money to organizations that accept tobacco funds -and tell them why.

Without a strong framework to combat tobacco use around the world - women will remain victims of this dastardly industry.

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