F orget BlackBerrys or wedges: the most desirable accessory for huge numbers of adolescent girls today is a cigarette. The gap has narrowed since but in girls are still more likely to smoke than boys. There has long been a synergy between the changing self-image of girls and the wiles of the tobacco industry.
Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General.
Teens from collectivistic cultures also more swayed by peers than those in individualistic cultures
NCBI Bookshelf. Office on Smoking and Health US. This chapter summarizes trends and patterns of cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products among women and girls and updates and expands the information in previous reports of the Surgeon General, particularly the report titled, The Health Consequences of Smoking for Women U. This report primarily uses U. In the case of international smoking patterns, data are provided by the World Health Organization WHO and international surveys. Gender-specific differences are discussed to the extent that data exist. Sections of this chapter cover the prevalence of cigarette smoking among women and girls of different age groups; smoking during pregnancy; smoking initiation; nicotine dependence; smoking cessation; other tobacco use; exposure to environmental tobacco smoke; the relationship of smoking to body weight, other drug use, and mental health; and international trends in smoking prevalence. Young women and pregnant women are included in the estimates of smoking prevalence and cessation among women overall, but separate sections address smoking prevalence and cessation among these groups of women because they represent important populations for specific interventions.
The way things stand now, tobacco use will kill one billion people in the 21st century. In the United States, 90 percent of smokers pick up the habit by age 18, making adolescence a critical time for smoking-prevention efforts. Peer influence has long been known as a major risk factor for adolescent smoking, but findings have varied about how big the risk is or how this dynamic unfolds. A new, rigorous meta-analysis of 75 longitudinal teen smoking studies published today in the journal Psychological Bulletin finds that having friends who smoke doubles the risk that children ages 10 to 19 will start smoking and continue smoking. It also found that peer influence is more powerful in collectivist cultures than in those where individualism is the norm. We predicted that people in collectivistic cultures would be more likely to be influenced by peers around them, and that held true. In those most collectivistic countries, adolescents whose peers smoke are 4. By contrast, having peers who smoke made adolescents from those most individualist countries 1. The study included data from 16 countries, both collectivistic -- for example, China, South Korea, Jordan and Portugal -- and individualistic like the United States, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The authors also examined the ethnic origins of the adolescents in each study, regardless of nationality.
The history of women's smoking behaviour is one of changing normative definitions. Recent trends have been explained in terms of the symbolic value of smoking, representing for women freedom and independence. This view is emphasised by advertising. However, other evidence suggests the continued existence of an older, more negative cultural stereotype. A two-part study of young women undergoing professional training for nursing and teaching throws some light on the way in which female smoking behaviour is currently socially interpreted. The first phase indicated that among the minority of parents who had expressed their attitudes towards their daughter's smoking in relation to sex-role norms, smoking was presented as unacceptable for women. More than half the sample perceived a negative cultural stereotype to be operating in contemporary society and two-thirds recognised its existence in the past. This stereotype presents smoking as a male behaviour and hence inappropriate for women. Women who do smoke are liable to be labelled as having unfeminine or degrading attributes. The stereotype operated more strongly in the general social background rather than in reference to personal relationships and hence its influence on contemporary behaviour is likely to be limited.