BC women commit to quit.

Tobacco presents a significant health risk to Canadian females of all ages.

With smoking continuing to be a major health risk for the Canadian population at large, many medical authorities have set their sights on the risks specifically for women.

According to Health Canada, smoking is the main risk factor associated with lung cancer for women, and one of the factors in heart disease, stroke and respiratory diseases. In addition, it’s linked ot a variety of other cancers.

The surge of interest in the impact of smoking for women can be attributed to a number of factors: the trend of smoking amongst teenaged girls; tobacco marketing that is often aimed directly at the female demographic; and women-specific health issues such as pregnancy.

According to the tobacco education coordinator for the BC lung Association, the statistics loom large over the Canadian health landscape. Lung cnacer rates in the last couple of decades have quadrupled, she says, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is growing fastest among middle-aged women. Young women aged 18 – 24, meanwhile, are percentage-wise the largest group of smokers.

The role of advertising and the mass media.

Women have been targeted by the tobacco industry as early as the 1920’s, when smoking was marketed as a “torch of freedom,” something that every woman had the right to enjoy as man’s equal. In time, smoking came to mean more things: a habit one developed at fashionable socials’, a substitute for sweets for the weight-conscious; a privilege to enjoy for doing men’s jobs during the war; a well-deserved break for the “housemom”; and a badge of emancipation.

Indeed, throughout the decades, television and the movies have portrayed women who smoke in powerful ways: as glamourous and liberated individuals who are hip to the ways of the world, and as successful career pros who are men’s equals at home and in the boardroom. Add ot that the myth that advertising has successfully fabricated: light up as an effective way of losing wight and keeping trim. no wonder then that many women still believe the ïmage”and start smoking.

Smoking and Pregnancy

Smoking and pregnancy make an especially dangerous combination. If a pregnant woman smokes, so does her baby.

Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide, a posonous gas that easily crosses the placnetal barrier between the mother and baby through the blood stream. Carbon monocide deprives both the mother and the unborn child of vital oxygen replacing oxygen in red blood cells.

Nicotine adds to the damage caused by tobacco smoke by narrowwing the blood vessels in the placenta. Like carbon monocide, nicotine enters the baby’s blood, further decreasing the baby’s oxygen level as well as affecting its food intake in the womb.

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