Stress is a big factor that drives women to smoke. These days, females are expected to work full-time, take care of households, raise children, and still have time to be attentive wives. And don’t forget about single women, who still have to run households, possibly raise children, work, and pay all the bills themselves.
Factors that start teenage girls on the path to addictive smoking are impossible body standards and impossible academic demands. Girls see ridiculously thin actresses (known to have private eating disorders) portraying “real life.” Smoking can suppress the appetite to keep weight off. Unreasonable academic demands push teenage girls to relieve stress by smoking.
Finally, most forms of media (television, radio, newspapers, websites, and so on) do not promote smoking, but they no longer dissuade it, either. A number of years ago, there was a public media campaign that warned of the dangers of smoking. Today, a whole new crop of young women do not see concrete reasons NOT to smoke. This is an issue that needs to be publicly readdressed.
Studies have found that females have certain health risks when they smoke. Some of these risks are unique to women, and some are increased in females compared to males:
Women who smoke have an increased risk for developing cervical cancer
Female smokers have more complications with pregnancies, including lower infant birth weights and defects
Women who smoke and take birth control have an increased risk for strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots
Female smokers have an alarmingly younger age for a first heart attack compared to men who smoke: women who smoke have a first heart attack (on the average) at about age 66, compared to women who don’t smoke (81.) That’s a 14 year difference. For men, the difference is 6 years (age 72 for smokers compared to 64 for non-smokers.)