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Smoking Facts for Women:
What you need to know to help you quit

Photo professional  woman

What are the effects of smoking on my health?

By now, most women have heard that smoking causes heart disease and lung cancer. But did you also know that:

  • Lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking kills more women than breast cancer?
  • Smoking is linked to osteoporosis--weak bones that can result in a broken bone with normal activities?
  • Smoking increases your chance of cervical cancer?
  • Smoking increases the chance of a miscarriage or stillbirth?
  • Smoking reduces your chance of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child?
  • Women who smoke go through menopause two years earlier than women who don't?

Why do women start smoking?

Smoking is an equal opportunity addiction. The advertising by tobacco companies targeting women and girls has made a big impact:

  • 23% of adult women are smokers compared to 27% of men.
  • 35.2% of female high school seniors are current smokers.

The National Health Interview Survey showed an increase in smoking initiated by girls around 1967 when cigarette companies began ads for brands especially for women. Marketing cigarettes as "slims" or "thins" plays into social pressures on young women to be slender and more grown-up.

Why is it so hard to quit?

Nicotine addition is powerful and may be more powerful in women. Girls and women have a more difficult time quitting than boys and men. Women have lower quit rates and those between 12 and 24 years of age are more likely to report being unable to cut down than boys and men the same age.

Girls are more likely than boys to report feeling dependent on cigarettes. They are more likely to report feeling sad, blue or depressed during attempts to quit.

What can I do to stop smoking?

Smokers who make a commitment can do it!

Start by talking to your doctor or provider and by reading our handout, "How to become a former smoker."

Online Resource

Adapted by
Susan Flagler, DNS, ARNP
Associate Professor
Family and Child Nursing
School of Nursing
University of Washington

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