On Monday 20th Feburary, the Irish Cancer Society will launch its first major advertising campaignaimed specifically at young women who smoke. The Irish Cancer Society is concerned by the high levelof female smokers under-35 and believes that the number of tobacco related diseases in women is reaching epidemic proportions.
The number of women dying from lung cancer now exceeds the number of women dying from breast cancer. Research published in The Lancet last year found that women might extract a more carcinogens and other toxic agents from the same number of cigarettes than men. More than half of disadvantaged women aged between 18 and 29 years of age smoke, which is twice as high as the rate in non-disadvantaged groups.
The ‘I’ll Quit When I’m 30’ advertisements, that will be launched by Grace Batterberry the ex-smoker on Operation Transformation, are targeted at the young women who set a date to quit but find it difficult to stick to that date. The Society encourages women to pick their quit date and then plan, prepare and get help in advance so that they can take control of their lives, their health and their looks.
The Irish Cancer Society is launching the campaign to coincide with Ash Wednesday which is National No Smoking Day. The Society has recentlystated it has major concerns around the number of young women who smoke and this campaign encapsulates the need for action. Using youth media, online communications, social marketing and guerrilla advertising, the campaign aims to have young women to think about quitting and to direct them to support services so that they are successful.
Data from the National Cancer Registry shows that the number of lung cancers in women is increasing by 3% a year. From being a predominantly male disease for the past fifty years, lung cancer is projected to be a predominantly female disease by 2025. Despite a generation of health promotion, this easily preventable cancer still causes more deaths than any other. Smoking is the most important preventable cause of cancer.
While the Irish Cancer Society and other groups try to deglamourize smoking, the tobacco industry is working to strengthen the link between style and tobacco. Superslim cigarettes have been the key design innovation of the last five years, with particular appeal to the female smoker. Japan Tobacco International has developed odour-reducing technology which has carbon in the filter as well as a double layer of paper and added flavours in order to reduce odour emitted from burning cigarettes. All this product innovation is aimed at female smokers who the tobacco industry sees as a key growth area. Their success is highlighted by the fact more women are now dying from lung cancer than breast cancer.
There are some unique problems when trying to reduce the number of young women who smoke says Kathleen O’Meara, Head of Communications at the Irish Cancer Society. “Smoking is not just a behaviouralhabit, it is anaddiction and one thatwomen sometimes find harder to fight than men. We don’t believe that it is enough to treat nicotine addiction as a lifestyle issue. The U.S Surgeon General has said that smoking can be as addictive as heroin and users can have the same relationship with tobacco as those who are addicted toheroin.We need to start thinking of smoking in these terms and provide the same level of support to fighttobacco use in this country.We know that 70%of smokers want to quit andmany womenneedprofessional andon-goingsupport if they are to succeed in quitting and the nature of this support may bedifferent from that needed by men.”
The National Smokers’ Quitline 1850 201 203 is a partnership between the Health Service Executive and the Irish Cancer Society. Smokers are encouraged to call for information, advice, support and a quit booklet. You can also visit the Smoking information pages on www.cancer.ie/reduce-your-risk/smoking or www.quit.ie
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