It is terribly dispiriting that almost one-in-three Irish women still smoke.
That this grim-reaper statistic stands despite decades of preventative health education programmes, millions upon millions spent on anti-smoking advertising, the sobering fact that one-in-two smokers will die of a smoking-related illness, and that nearly everyone of us has seen a life sucked away or squandered through tobacco addiction.
So many Irish women smoke that for the first time, more women are dying from lung cancer than from breast cancer. It is not sanctimonious to suggest that this is a huge social failure because so many of these women, no matter how much they enjoy the great pleasures of smoking, must know that they will pay the ultimate price for their indulgence. As well as that, they will add tremendously to the strain placed on an already overstretched health system.
Most of all, it is a sobering testimony to the power of advertising and product placement to persuade consumers that the pleasure, ultimately the slavish necessity, of smoking outweighs the-all-but inevitable lethal consequences.
Yesterday, the Irish Cancer Society warned that the tobacco industry is aggressively targeting women and girls. This is not surprising, after all tobacco peddlers are commercial beasts dedicated to realising a profit who will use any legal means that serve this end. If that includes packaging and re-branding to seduce women, we should not be surprised. However, we should be disappointed that these campaigns are so very successful. It is terribly disappointing that all of the health programmes designed to make smoking socially unacceptable because it is so very dangerous, have not been more effective.
Source: Irish Examiner, 05/07/12