Beware: Big Tobacco Has Stepped Up Targeting of Women and Girls

The tobacco industry has unleashed its most aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at women and girls in over a decade, according to a report by a coalition of Public Health organizations.  The report warns that these new marketing campaigns are putting the health of women and girls at risk and urges congress to regulate tobacco marketing by passing legislation granting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products.

The report, “Deadly in Pink: Big Tobacco Steps Up Its Targeting of Women and Girls”, was issued by the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, American Health Association, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The report and images of the tobacco marketing campaign can be found at

In the last 2 years, the nation’s two largest tobacco companies – Phillip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds – have launched new marketing campaigns and depict cigarette smoking as feminine and fashionable, rather than the harmful and deadly addiction it really is.

In October of 2008, Phillip Morris USA announced a makeover of its Virginia Slims brand into purse packs – small, rectangular cigarette packs that contain “super slim” cigarettes.  They come in “super slim light” and “super slim ultra light” versions.  In January of 2007, RJ Reynolds launched a new version of its Camel cigarettes, called Camel No. 9, packaged in shiny black boxes with hot pink and teal borders.  These new marketing campaigns are the latest chapter in the tobacco industry’s long history of targeting women and girls, which has had a devastating impact on women’s health. 

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of woman, having surpassed breast cancer in 1987, and smoking puts women and girls at a greater risk of a wide-range of deadly diseases, including heart attacks, strokes, emphysema and numerous cancers.

Today, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death among women, killing more than 170,000 women in the U.S. each year. More women than men now die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is caused primarily by smoking and has become the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

In the U.S. as a whole, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year.  About 90 percent of adult smokers start in their teens or earlier.  Every day, another 1,500 kids become regular smokers and one-third will die prematurely as a result.  Parents beware!

Camden County Community Partnership for a Tobacco Free New Jersey is designed to educate the public on many tobacco control issues.  It is funded by the Department of Health and Senior Services Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs.

For more information or to download the full report, please visit


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