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June 2, 2010

JHSPH Researchers Contribute to `World No Tobacco Day´ Reports

Tobacco use is on the rise among women, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO). The report, Gender, Women, and the Tobacco Epidemic, which includes contributions from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers, found the trend is even more pronounced in developing countries where tobacco companies are targeting women through well-funded, alluring marketing campaigns.  In addition, researchers examined gender differences in tobacco use and exposure to tobacco marketing in a paper published in the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR). Both were released in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2010.

“Although the majority of the world’s smokers are men, the gap between young males and females is shrinking in many parts of the world,” said Benjamin Apelberg, PhD, MHS, contributing author of the WHO report and an assistant scientist with the School’s Department of Epidemiology and Institute for Global Tobacco Control.  “Women represent a large potential market for the tobacco industry and the WHO report highlights the role that tobacco industry marketing plays in influencing young people to start using tobacco.”  Elisabeth Donaldson, MHS, contributing author of the report and a research program manager at the Bloomberg School’s Institute for Global Tobacco Control, adds, “The report also found that in developed countries, girls may be more influenced by beliefs about self-image and female friends or role models.  Understanding how these factors influence initiation and use among girls and women could lead to the development of more effective tobacco control policies.”

Apelberg also co-authored a paper on gender differences in tobacco use and exposure to tobacco marketing in Bangladesh, Thailand and Uruguay. Although tobacco use surveys have been conducted previously in all three countries, the paper is the first to compare results among countries that participated in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).  GATS is a nationally representative household survey—initially conducted during 2008–2009 in 14 low- and middle-income countries measuring tobacco use and key tobacco control indicators using the same core questionnaire and survey method.

This year, World No Tobacco Day focused on "gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women,” with activities designed to draw attention to the need to protect women and girls from the harmful effects of tobacco marketing. Approximately 1.5 million women worldwide die each year from tobacco use and three quarters of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. To effectively combat the tobacco epidemic, the World Health Organization recommends MPOWER, a technical assistance package that outlines six key tobacco control measures, including enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

If you would like to support tobacco control research or our students, you can make a contribution here.

Public Affairs media contact for JHSPH: Natalie Wood-Wright at 410-614-6029 or nwoodwri@jhsph.edu.