From social taboo to target market: How tobacco use became a women’s issue
Something interesting happened after the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report confirming the link between smoking and cancer in 1964.
In the years following the release of the report, the smoking rate among men dropped from 52 percent to 38 percent between 1965 and 1979. The percentage of women smoking cigarettes, however, saw a much less significant drop. During that same time period, the smoking rate for women decreased from 34 to 30 percent.
How did smoking, which used to be socially unacceptable for women, become almost as common among women as men? The 2014 Surgeon General’s report, released 50 years after the first report, points to one major factor: “Smoking prevalence among women … continued to increase across the 1970s as products were aggressively marketed to women.”