‘Men should be made aware of their responsibility to avoid smoking around women'

Checking tobacco use among women is an important part of any tobacco control strategy, said Goa Women's Forum, a collective of women volunteers of the Civic and Consumer Forum in Goa on Sunday.

On the eve of ‘World No Tobacco Day,' the group released information documented by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on gender and tobacco.

It is focussing on spreading awareness of the harm that tobacco marketing and smoke cause to women, and make men more aware of their responsibility to avoid smoking around women with whom they live and work.

They stress that tobacco prevention and cessation programmes should be integrated into reproductive health services as smoking increases the risks of infertility and cervical cancer.

Warnings about the harmful effects of tobacco must take into account that illiteracy is higher among women than men, and should use pictures to ensure that those who cannot read are also able to understand the health risks connected to tobacco use, said the document.

About 200 million of the world's one billion smokers are women.

This constitutes about nine per cent of the world's women (40 per cent of the world's men are smokers).

Approximately 1.5 million women die every year from tobacco use. But this number is steadily increasing: the tobacco industry aggressively targets women in order to increase its consumer base and to replace those consumers who quit or who die prematurely from cancer, heart attack, stroke, emphysema or other tobacco-related diseases.

Evidence suggests that most of these girls and boys would continue to smoke into adulthood.