Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Gender and tobacco


At present, men use tobacco at higher rates than women, and in some countries this is particularly pronounced. However, the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) shows that the gap is closing. Among 13-15 year olds, there was no difference in cigarette smoking prevalence between boys and girls in more than half of the countries surveyed. In fact, girls had higher smoking rates than boys in about 3% of the countries. In India and several other countries large numbers of women are also using other forms of tobacco, such as chewing tobacco.

In order to survive, the tobacco industry needs to hook new customers to replace those who die or quit. Most of these replacement customers are boys and girls under the age of 18. In countries where tobacco use among women had been formerly seen as socially unacceptable, the industry is linking smoking with sophistication, independence and freedom. The industry, in its targeting of girls and women, also uses seductive images of vitality, slimness, emancipation, sophistication and sexual allure.