Monday, July 17, 2006 | 7:16 a.m.
A new report based on data compiled by the World Health Organization says that 12 percent of the world's women are smokers and that the number will rise to 20 percent by 2025. The same report says that while 48 percent of men currently smoke, that number is expected to decline.
The International Network of Women Against Tobacco, which released the report last week at a Washington conference sponsored by the American Cancer Society, blames overseas marketing by tobacco companies for the increasing number of women smokers.
The report is highly critical of billboard ads that show strong, healthy and attractive women enjoying their cigarettes.
In Turkey, for example, where women smokers were once rare, they now rival men in numbers and the report blames such advertising for reversing the cultural norm.
Such advertising recalls the cigarette ads in this country during the 1960s and 1970s that specifically targeted women. The ads were successful in drawing more women, particularly young women, into this unhealthy habit.
Since the 1998 national tobacco settlement, most smoking ads have been outlawed in this country. We would hope the United States, through the World Health Organization, could play a leadership role in persuading other countries to follow suit.
There is nothing glamorous or sexy about destroying your body from the inside out with poisonous tobacco smoke.