Report Released Feb. 18, 2009
The tobacco industry has a long history of developing cigarette brands and marketing campaigns that target women and girls, with devastating consequences for women's health.
In the last two years, the industry has launched its most aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at women and girls in over a decade. These campaigns are again putting the health of women and girls at risk and underscore the need for Congress to pass legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products.
The nation's two largest tobacco companies — Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds— have launched new marketing campaigns that depict cigarette smoking as feminine and fashionable, rather than the harmful and deadly addiction it really is:
Previous marketing campaigns have had a devastating impact on women's health. The nation's latest cancer statistics, released in December 2008, showed that while lung cancer death rates are decreasing for men — and overall cancer death rates are decreasing for both men and women — lung cancer death rates have yet to decline for women.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of women, having surpassed breast cancer in 1987, and smoking puts women and girls at greater risk of a wide range of deadly diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, emphysema and numerous cancers.
Congress can curtail the industry's most harmful practices by passing the bill granting the FDA authority over tobacco products. Among other things, this bill would:
Crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids.
Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar" and strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products.
Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products and advertising.
Require tobacco companies to disclose contents of their products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
Grant the FDA the authority to require changes in tobacco products, such as the reduction or removal of harmful ingredients and the reduction of nicotine to non-addictive levels.
The new marketing campaigns are the latest chapter in the tobacco industry's long history of targeting women and girls. Some previous examples: