Sunday, January 27, 2008

[girls smoke] the new generation

I question the figures:

[A] Bath University-led team said "aggressive targeting" of women by tobacco firms was behind the rise [in female smoking in Russia]. Researchers monitoring 7,000 people over 11 years found 7% of women smoked in 1992, compared with 15% in 2003, the Tobacco Control journal reports.

Manufacturer British American Tobacco said the increase was due to Russians having more money for cigarettes. [However] the researchers, who also included teams from University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said tobacco advertising had been virtually non-existent in the Soviet Union. Companies invested heavily in developing the market, promoting smoking as part of the new 'western lifestyle' [Dr Anna Gilmore, lead researcher]

[O]nce the break-up [of the Soviet Union] started, the nationalised smoking industry disintegrated, allowing the big tobacco firms to push their products. The report said the firms became "rampant" and by the mid-1990s it was estimated that half of all billboards in Moscow and three quarters of plastic bags in the country carried tobacco advertising.

Lead researcher Dr Anna Gilmore said: "There can be no doubt that the marketing tactics of Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and the like directly underpin this massive increase in smoking that spells disaster for health in Russia.

The reason I question the figures is that I'd estimate now that, of the younger girls I know and see over here [up to 25 years of age], maybe 70% smoke and that might be a conservative estimate.

The issue today has become sidetracked because of, for example, the U.K.'s heavy handed and draconian legislation which I commented on here and here - the idea of the government legislating on the matter is anathema to millions of people and those pushing such legislation now have a nice label attached - anti-smoking nazis.

The moment government does these things and the blogosphere attaches a catch-all label, all real debate flies out the window and it's back to the good old entrenched positions all over again.

As in climate change.

This, in turn, leads to this sort of thing and most people, including myself, would agree with the publicans. It then makes this sort of thing so much harder.

On the other hand, non-legislative national campaigns can be effective for a short time. In Australia in the 80s, there were two major campaigns I recall. "Slip, slop, slap" was aimed at reducing skin cancer and was pretty effective. It became quite cool to sport a white nose in the sun and to wear a hat and light shirt on the beach, as a counterweight to the image of the bronzed Aussie.

Another campaign was against smoking and there were buses which toured schools, replete with videos, smoking machines and stats. These targetted young kids and the obvious question was how ethical it all was - libertarians might say not very. The bus was popular with the kids though because of the "show" the young people manning the bus put on and the kids definitely thought the issue through.

Some time ago, this blog drew attention to the dangers of female smoking as more insidious than male but what effect would such a post have on a girl? I'd say next to zero.

I'm in a position to talk to hundreds of girls a week about it but as most readers would suspect, the best result such a campaign would achieve would be marginal, at best. Girls parrot the words and agree 'oh yes, it's a terrible thing' and they'll tell you how terrible all their friends are smoking [but not them] and then they'll go to the club that night and of course they're all smoking.

Sites like Parentingteens are virtually nowhere - convincing parents themselves but how many teen girls would read a site like that?

They're much more likely to read this and there's no mucking about here - it's straight into it, pushing girls smoking and these sites are all over the place, interwoven with porn on Google searches - interesting how the tat industry is so keen to associate smoking and teen sex as part of the new youth and a whole generation is being pied-pipered into it.

This is the most balanced site I can find but again, how many girls are going to tune into it?

I have absolutely no idea what to do to stem this tide. Labelling anyone who raises concerns over young females smoking immediately puts that person in the "anti-smoking nazi" camp and I'm dead against government legislation on the matter.

So where to go from here? I just hate seeing wrong things succeed and right things get nowhere.


CalumCarr said...


"I'd estimate now that, of the younger girls I know and see over here [up to 25 years of age], maybe 70% smoke ..." OK so 70% smoke after they meet you. What %age smoke before they meet you? Is there a Higham effect?

"I'm in a position to talk to hundreds of girls a week What is it you do, James? Is it strictly legal? Sounds as though you are on to a good thing. You know about arses, apparently. C'mon tell us!!

Rob said...

The big problem is that many young girls have a desperate desire to look cool and seem attractive.

It's very difficult to fight when most female role models are seen smoking.

Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, etc...

Also as my mother tells me -- she's a teacher. A lot of girls at her school smoke to stave off hunger. Seems mad but they are desperate to have the "perfect" figure.

It's insane what we are doing to young girls. I have no idea how you go about changing things though.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

"What is it you do, James? Is it strictly legal?"

There are three components - my trade work with the government, uni professor - hence the hundreds of girls and about twenty boys and my private practice which brings mainly women and girls but also businessmen. Timewise, they're about equally apportioned.

"You know about arses, apparently."

Calum, you need to be over here to see what I mean. Thousands and thousands on the street, in the cafes, at the megacomplexes. There are guys too but I don't tend to notice them as much. You have no choice but to see these faces and bottoms.

If that was Kylie's bottom you had in the photo at your site, then I say again that girls in my own personal circle have better than that. Seriously.

In the end, the only butt which gets my physical attention is my own girl's [which is pretty magnificent, by the way]. The rest is eye candy.

Rob - we can't do anything ourselves - girls have always been sucked into things but the female "mentorship", it not being exactly our role, seems to have gone missing these days. Where are the older women advising girls, these days? Seem to have gone.

Gracchi said...

Public education about smoking is a good thing. I also actually think that the smoking ban is a good idea- I know several people (including young women) who have given up because of it.

Bag said...

Peer pressure is one of the most powerful influences in our lives.

Our government believes it can legislate against thousands of years of evolution even while the drug problems tell them the truth.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Gracchi, Bag - I have to think this whole thing through. It's a conundrum, all right. think many of us have to think it through too.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Isn't it on the increase among the young in all countries? It's like exctreme thinness - it's to do with the images pushed at girls all the time. I don't know what can be done other than a return to the showing of images of smoking -related cancers of the 1970s.

jmb said...

You know it does work, banning smoking. I saw it work in the hospital where I worked for 18 years. In the beginning you could smoke in the cafeteria and in designated smoking rooms and private offices. Masses of the staff smoked, yes all those nurses and even some doctors. Over the years down to no smoking anywhere except outside, even for patients. So how many people gave it up? Almost everyone. In pharmacy we had two smokers out of 30 at the end. You would see a few people huddled under cover at the exits at break time but basically most people just quit.
It was the same when they banned it finally in bars (long gone in restaurants). The gloom and doom predicted just didn't happen. The non-smokers returned to the bars and everyone else adjusted. (Not that drinking in bars and pubs is as big a way of life here as in Britain.) Yes this is anecdotal evidence.

I was a smoker too, long ago. It seemed like a rite of passage into adulthood. But after about five years I saw the ridiculousness of it and quit.

Colin Campbell said...

In South Australia, smoking is banned in cars with kids, schools, offices, casinos, pokie venues, bars, offices, shopping malls, you name it. There are so many people still smoking despite this. The visual messages are very scary on the packets. So the motivation to smoke is low. About 20 percent of the people in my office smoke. They have to troop off downstairs and congregate with their fellow social pariahs. Governments are right to make a big investment in this area. They foot the bill later for all the health catastrophes associated with smoking diseases.

As for sun screen, the government has taken the view that more aggressive tactics are necessary, with very visual print and television adverts showing lesions being removed. I blogged about this recently. I know so many Aussies who are having this surgery fairly regularly. I spent an over enthusiastic afternoon gardening a couple of weeks ago and go very badly burned. It is a real issue here and that was just stupid.


Verlin Martin said...

ahh if one ban works, another surely will...

Simply ban everything that hurts people in some way and everything will be all right /sarc

Instead of banning smoking, they should ball up and do what they really want to do and make tobacco ILLEGAL. Until that point, they are simply trying to get more money.