Sep. 30 2003
Washington, D.C. — The new Women & Smoking Report Card released today by the National Women's Law Center and the Center for Women's Health at Oregon Health & Science University shows that states are falling far short of what is needed to reduce the number of women and girls in this country who smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death among women, yet the report gives most states a failing grade in implementing proven tobacco prevention and cessation measures that can reduce smoking and save lives.
For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted women and girls with its advertising and marketing, and this report shows the results have been devastating for women's health. Lung cancer is now the leading cancer killer among women. Heart disease is the overall leading cause of death among women, and smoking accounts for one of every five deaths from heart disease. And in 2000, the number of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) deaths in women exceeded those in men for the first time. This report is a wake-up for elected officials at all levels to do more to stop the tobacco industry's harmful practices and enact proven tobacco prevention and cessation measures.
We know how to reduce tobacco use among women and girls by curtailing tobacco marketing targeted at them, increasing tobacco taxes, funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs and passing strong smoke-free workplace laws. But this report shows that the federal government and too many states - through their failure to target funds from the Master Settlement Agreement to tobacco control - are neglecting to implement these proven solutions. Women and Smoking gives failing grades to 39 states. No state received the highest grade of "Satisfactory," and only two states received a grade of "Satisfactory minus." The nation received an overall grade of "Fail."
The serious problem of smoking among women and girls also requires an aggressive national response. This report shows why it is so important that Congress grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration real authority to regulate tobacco, including the authority to restrict marketing aimed at children and to stop misleading health claims about cigarettes that prey on women's concerns about their health.
Women and Smoking is a comprehensive assessment of women's smoking-related health conditions and the policies that are proven to help reduce smoking among women and girls. The study grades and ranks each state and the nation on 11 health status indicators, and evaluates the strength of state tobacco control policies through 10 policy indicators. Women and Smoking grades the health indicators primarily against ten-year national health objectives set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 prevention agenda.
The Women and Smoking report is available on the web at www.nwlc.org.