Freedom Has its Costs: More Female Smokers

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A new study says as women gain more rights all over the world, they are more likely to take up smoking.

The web site Red Orbit reports that the study published in the World Health Organization Bulletin analyzed smoking habits in 74 countries. It found that men are five times more likely to smoke than women in countries where women have fewer rights, such as China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

In China, for example, 61% of men are smokers, while 4% of women smoke.

In countries like United States, Australia, Canada and Sweden where women have the same rights, they smoke just as much as men do.

"The tobacco epidemic is still in its early stages in many countries but is expected to worsen," Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative told Reuters in a statement. "Strong tobacco control measures such as bans on tobacco advertising are needed to prevent the tobacco industry from targeting women."

Study leader Geoffrey Fong of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada said it is time to look at anti-smoking measures differently.

"Our study makes a strong case for implementing gender-specific tobacco control activities ... such as more higher tobacco taxes, more prominent graphic health warnings, smoke-free laws, and advertising and promotion bans," Fong said.

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