RJ Reynolds (RJR) is at it again. This time, the cigarette giant has created a flashy, trendy Camel No. 9 cigarette, hoping to attract young female smokers, by playing off designer Channel 9 and the slogan, "Dressing to the 9s." According to Indianapolis Star columnist Marie Cocco, RJR's latest marketing campaign is designed to "hook young women on cigarettes by dressing up death in fuchsia and teal."

Female members of Smokefree St. Louis (pictured here) protest outside of an RJR sponsored "spa night," sending the message loud and clear that there is nothing "light" or "luscious" about tobacco addiction. Smoking kills over 178,000 women every year. Lung cancer death rates among women increased by more than 400% between 1960 and 1990. In 1987, lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among women. The Camel No. 9 campaign is just the latest example of aggressive cigarette marketing that attracts and influences youth, in this case young girls. News reports have estimated that RJR is spending between $25 and $50 million to launch Camel No. 9.

ANR has joined more than 45 other health and women's organizations in protesting the marketing of R.J. Reynolds Company's Camel No. 9, a brand crudely designed to addict girls and young women to smoking. For more information, read the letter to RJR, as well as a reponse from RJR.

You don't have to smoke to be at risk of developing tobacco-related diseases or to be a victim of secondhand smoke. With the recent passing of nonsmoker Dana Reeve (at 44) due to lung cancer, we are reminded that secondhand smoke kills and that women are uniquely endangered. Reeve was a renowned vocalist and the beloved wife of actor Christopher Reeve (Superman), whose cancer is speculated to have been caused by exposure to secondhand smoke in the clubs in which she performed.

According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 178,000 American women die each year from tobacco-related illnesses, including heart disease and lung and breast cancers. All are also linked to secondhand smoke exposure. Women across the country are saying enough is enough, and reclaiming their right to life by educating their communities about the health dangers of secondhand smoke, getting involved in smokefree workplace campaigns, and challenging the tobacco companies' dirty targeted marketing tactics head on.

If your life has been impacted by secondhand smoke, please share your story.

Holding the tobacco companies accountable

The tobacco companies have been targeting women since Lucky Strike launched its "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet" campaign in the 1920s. Over the years, Big Tobacco has become more insidious in its approach, and started monitoring women's attitudes, goals, fears and insecurities. The tobacco companies use this information to market their cigarettes to women, by creating distinct female brands with inspirational images and subtle messages that stimulate and nurture specific emotions in women - such as independence, success, desire, acceptance, and femininity.

Click on the image below to see a breakdown of how the tobacco companies break women down. Click here to read the full story.

You have the power to make positive change!

Women are the gatekeepers and guardians of their communities. They comprise more than 51 percent of the United States population (with 34 percent of those in the workforce holding executive, professional specialty, or managerial positions, compared to 30 percent of men). As a majority, women have the power to create positive change to make their communities healthy and smokefree.

Things you can do:

  1. Get involved! Participate in a smokefree campaign. Smokefree environments not only protect all workers from secondhand smoke on the job, but also make it easier for smokers to quit. Contact ANR to locate a smokefree coalition near you.

  2. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or favorite women's entertainment and/or health magazine, expressing your support for smokefree environments. If cigarette advertisements appear in the periodical, encourage it to cease running them.

  3. Vote! Elect candidates to public office who are supportive of smokefree air and have a history of supporting women's health issues. Also, if a smokefree initiative is on the ballot, assist in signature gathering and help get out the vote.

  4. Kick the habit. Nearly 1 in 5 women smoke and more than three quarters of them report wanting to quit. Kicking the habit is difficult, but there are people there to help you achieve your goal of being 100% smokefree. Contact ANR to locate support groups and cessation quit lines in your area. In addition, there are a number of national, female-oriented cessation services:

    Circle of Friends

    Great Start (Pregnant Smokers)
    866-66-START (English & Spanish)

    National Cancer Institute
    800-4-CANCER (422-6237) (English & Spanish)

    National Women's Health Information Center
    800-994-9662 (English & Spanish)

  5. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Plan ahead. Contact the Komen Foundation chapter in your area and encourage them to focus on the link between secondhand smoke exposure and breast cancer when planning activities and media events.

"The Soprano's" actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler is a celebrity spokesperson to the American Legacy Foundation's Circle of Friends project, a network of women supporting one another in their efforts to be 100% smokefree.

Protect Your Kids

Secondhand smoke exposure can cause infertility, and exposure during pregnancy is linked with low birth weight, pre-term delivery, stillbirth and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in babies. Children and adolescents' exposure to secondhand smoke increases risks for developing asthma, other respiratory illnesses, obesity, and cognitive impairments, which make it difficult for children to learn math and how to read.

Visit the American Legacy Foundation for more information on tobacco-related health disparities among women and pregnant women and cessation resources that are available in your home state.

Air purifiers and other ventilation systems do not eliminate all the health dangers caused by secondhand smoke exposure. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), all cognitive government health agencies, the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, and a number of air filtration companies agree that the only way to completely eliminate all the poisonous gases and toxins in secondhand smoke is to go 100% smokefree.


Brown-Johnson, C.G.; England, L.J.; Glantz, S.A.; Ling, P.M., "Tobacco industry marketing to low socioeconomic status women in the USA," Tobacco Control [Epub ahead of print], January 21, 2014.

Tobacco firms used diet-aid chemicals
Internal documents reveal that appetite suppressants were added to cigarettes as companies pitched their products to women
The Independent (uk), 2011-04-24
Nina Lakhani

British and American tobacco companies deliberately added powerful appetite-suppressing chemicals to cigarettes to attract people worried about their weight, according to internal industry documents dating from 1949 to 1999. Chemical additives are just one of several strategies successfully used by tobacco companies over the past 50 years to convince people that smoking makes you thin. ...

Deadly in pink: the impact of cigarette packaging among young women
Online First Article Tob Control doi:10.1136/tc.2010.038315
Tobacco Control, 2011-04-08

Participants were randomised to view eight cigarette packs designed according to one of four experimental conditions: fully-branded female brands; the same brands without descriptors (eg, ‘slims’); the same brands without brand imagery or descriptors (ie, ‘plain’ packs); and fully branded non-female brands as a control condition. Participants rated packs on perceived appeal, taste, tar, health risks and smoker ‘traits’. ...

Smokefree Women Launches Video Blog
Sacramento Bee - September 27, 2010

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 27 -- ROCKVILLE, Md. , Sept. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Monday, September 27, 2010, the National Cancer Institute's Smokefree Women Initiative will launch a video blog on the Smokefree Women Facebook page (http://facebook.com/Smokefree.Women). This new video blog will allow real women to share their quitting stories and offer encouragement to other women, as well as incorporate opinions and perspectives of those who've never smoked.

The Smokefree Women team will talk to women in the community about how smoking affects their lives. The team will gather footage from various places, such as sporting events, airports, and parks and post the videos to the Smokefree Women Facebook page. Women will be invited to participate in quizzes testing their knowledge of smoking and tobacco topics in exchange for prizes. Women will also be given the opportunity to submit questions to smoking cessation experts which will appear in "Ask the Expert" video posts. Users' comments will drive storylines, and eventually subscribers will be invited to submit their own videos, graphics, and stories.

Questions about the Smokefree Women video blog should be directed to: NCISmokefreeTeam@mail.nih.gov. ...

Report: 1 in 5 Female Lung Cancer Victims are Nonsmokers
February 16, 2007

Secondhand smoke may be the cause of many cases of lung cancer among women: research shows that up to 20 percent of women who get the disease have never smoked, Reuters reported Feb. 9.

Among men, about 9 percent of lung-cancer patients are nonsmokers, according to researcher Heather Wakelee of Stanford University. "And because of the stigma, people are embarrassed to speak out about their disease," she said. "They feel like as soon as they say they have lung cancer, everyone judges them."

Wakelee drew her conclusions from surveys of more than 1 million people ages 40-79. The study authors said it was unclear why so many female nonsmokers get lung cancer, but noted that more women than men may be exposed to secondhand smoke.

The study appears in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Wakelee, H.A., et al. (2007) Lung Cancer Incidence in Never Smokers. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25(5): 472-478.

The Taipei Declaration on Women and Tobacco Control
Posted on behalf of INWAT Members: Judith Mackay and Bungon Ritthiphakdee

Regional Workshop on Women and Tobacco Control
Taipei, Taiwan; 1 ­ 3 March 2006


Participants of the Regional Workshop on Women and Tobacco Control from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam recognise that:

  • female smoking rates in Asia are currently low compared with those in western countries and compared with male smoking rates in Asia;
  • a rise in tobacco use among females is likely, due to:
    - tobacco industry strategies targeting young women such as slim cigarettes, descriptors such as “Light” and “Mild” and flavoured cigarettes; also promotions that wrongly link increased status of women with smoking
    - the lessening of social constraints
    - governments’ focus on male smokers
    - the rarity of gender-specific tobacco control programmes
  • women are less likely than men to use tobacco, thus have the potential as agents of change in the home, the community and at national, regional and international levels;
  • youth have unique potential to contribute to tobacco control;
  • smoking--both active and passive--has pervasive effects on women’s health;
  • tobacco use is both a cause and a result of poverty;
  • women and families bear the brunt of the social and economic costs of tobacco use;
  • agencies for women’s affairs can play a major role in tobacco control;
  • the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other existing international treaties strengthen tobacco control and place tobacco control issues at the highest level of government.

We recommend that:

  • governments, NGOs and civil society act to keep smoking rates among females low in Asia;
  • governments make female tobacco use a priority for public health and poverty alleviation, especially among the poorest and least educated women;
  • gender-responsive policies in tobacco prevention, cessation and treatment services be adopted;
  • the WHO FCTC be implemented in a gender sensitive manner, where appropriate;
  • descriptors (such as “Light” & “Mild”) be banned, according to WHO FCTC Article 11, and flavoured cigarettes (such as fruit, chocolate and menthol) be banned;
  • smoking in indoor public places and working places be banned;
  • youth, women and women’s organisations be encouraged to actively engage in tobacco control activities;
  • women fully participate at all levels of policy-making and implementation of tobacco control strategies;
  • national task force committees on tobacco control include representatives from women’s organisations.
Additional Resources