National Non-Smoking Week (NNSW) Jan 19/25

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National Non-Smoking Week (NNSW) has been observed for more than 30 years. It is one of the longest running and most important events in Canada’s ongoing public health education efforts.

Established in 1977 by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control (CCTC), its goals are:

to educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking;
to prevent people who do not smoke from beginning to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco;
to help people quit smoking;
to promote the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke;
to denormalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices, tobacco products, and tobacco use; and
to assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada. is part of the CCTC family of websites. Like our other sites, it remains available but is no longer supported. The CCTC is seeking financial support to continue working to fulfill our mission and continue our efforts to support tobacco control.

Want to help support NNSW? Consider a charitable donation to the CCTC.

Membership for CCTC – CLICK HERE


Tobacco smoking is the practice of burning tobacco and inhaling the smoke (consisting of particle and gaseous phases). (A more broad definition may include simply taking tobacco smoke into the mouth, and then releasing it, as is done by some with tobacco pipes and cigars). The practice may have begun as early as 5000-3000 BC. Tobacco was introduced to Eurasia in the late 17th century where it followed common trade routes. The practice encountered criticism from its first import into the Western world onwards, but embedded itself in certain strata of a number of societies before becoming widespread upon the introduction of automated cigarette-rolling apparatus.

German scientists identified a link between smoking and lung cancer in the late 1920s, leading to the first anti-smoking campaign in modern history, albeit one truncated by the collapse of the Third Reich at the end of the Second World War. In 1950, British researchers demonstrated a clear relationship between smoking and cancer. Evidence continued to mount in the 1980s, which prompted political action against the practice. Rates of consumption since 1965 in the developed world have either peaked or declined. However, they continue to climb in the developing world.

Smoking is the most common method of consuming tobacco, and tobacco is the most common substance smoked. The agricultural product is often mixed with additives and then combusted. The resulting smoke is then inhaled and the active substances absorbed through the alveoli in the lungs. Combustion was traditionally enhanced by addition of potassium or other nitrates[citation needed]. Many substances in cigarette smoke trigger chemical reactions in nerve endings, which heighten heart rate, alertness, and reaction time, among other things.

DopamineseratoninDopamine and endorphins are released, which are often associated with pleasure. As of 2008 to 2010, tobacco is used by about 3 billion people (about 49% of men and 11% of women) with about 80% of this usage in the form of smoking. The gender gap tends to be less pronounced in lower age groups.

Many smokers begin during adolescence or early adulthood. During the early stages, a combination of perceived pleasure acting as positive reinforcement and desire to respond to social peer pressure may offset the unpleasant symptoms of initial use, which typically include nausea and interrupted sleep patterns. After an individual has smoked for some years, the avoidance of withdrawal symptoms and negative reinforcement become the key motivations to continue.

In a study done by Jennifer O’ Loughlin and her colleagues for seventh grade students were studied, with their first smoking experience. They found out that the most common factor leading students to smoke is cigarette advertisements. Smoking by parents, siblings and friends also encourage students to smoke.

Use in ancient cultures

Aztec women are handed flowers and smoking tubes before eating at a banquet, Florentine Codex, 16th century.

aztec women

Smoking’s history dates back to as early as 5000–3000 BC when the agricultural product began to be cultivated in South America; consumption later evolved into burning the plant substance either by accident or with intent of exploring other means of consumption. The practice worked its way into shamanistic rituals. Many ancient civilizations — such as the Babylonians, the Indians, and the Chinese — burnt incense during religious rituals. The practice was later adopted by Christians. Smoking in the Americas probably had its origins in the incense-burning ceremonies of shamans but was later adopted for pleasure or as a social tool. The smoking of tobacco and various hallucinogenic drugs was used to achieve trances and to come into contact with the spirit world.

Eastern North American tribes would carry large amounts of tobacco in pouches as a readily accepted trade item and would often smoke it in pipes, either in sacred ceremonies or to seal bargains. Adults as well as children enjoyed the practice. It was believed that tobacco was a gift from the Creator and that the exhaled tobacco smoke was capable of carrying one’s thoughts and prayers to heaven.

Apart from smoking, tobacco had a number of uses as medicine. As a pain killer it was used for earache and toothache and occasionally as a poultice. Smoking was said by the desert Indians to be a cure for colds, especially if the tobacco was mixed with the leaves of the small Desert Sage, Salvia Dorrii, or the root of Indian Balsam or Cough Root, Leptotaenia multifida, the addition of which was thought to be particularly good for asthma and tuberculosis.

Women and smoking is now declining in the developed world and increasing in the developing world.

As smoking levels decline in the developed world they are increasing in the developing world. The major cigarette manufacturers have more than tripled the number of cigarettes exported in the last 35 years.

Tobacco companies are using similar strategies to attract women in other countries that they used in the early days of attracting American women. Offering appealing ads that depict cigarettes as modern, empowering, and liberating draws in women smokers who make every effort to be as western as possible.

The smoking bans occurring in the United States are happening around the globe. In other countries (as in the United States), tobacco manufacturers circumvent advertising restrictions by sponsoring events, retail endorsements, and advertising in alternative markets such as satellite television channels. These methods have proven quite successful for the tobacco industry. Overwhelmingly, in the global market the trends point toward the market becoming increasingly female in the future, but only time will tell for sure.

Delving Deeper: Women, smoking and globalization

When discussing smoking among females it is crucial to also take into account the fact that smoking, and tobacco use in general, is a global issue that is not confined to the borders of the Western world. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes the stark difference between women in various geographic locations as it states that “about 22 percent of women in developed countries and 9 percent of women in developing countries smoke tobacco.” However, numerically the number of women could be more in developing countries.

In his article, Fred C. Pampel looks into why these differences may exist and suggests reasons pertaining to gender equality, cigarette diffusion, economic factors and smoking policies. For women in countries where traditional gender roles had been changed, it becomes more socially acceptable for women to initiate smoking.

However, this evidence should not hinder a deeper look into the smoking among women in developed countries.

And, as the rates of smoking among people in developed countries are on a slow decline, smoking rates among middle and low-income countries are increasing. particularly affects women within developing regions because they are most at risk when male cigarette use is high.

Recent statistics show that about 70% of tobacco users live in developing countries, and about half of the men in these countries are smokers.

Although women are not mainly the ones to smoke, they are still exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). When among men who smoke, the risks of passive smoking increase for women whether they are at home or at work. When referring back to the gender-specific effects of smoking on women, we know that smoking and second-hand smoke not only affects the female body but had detrimental results on the health of their children. This issue is compounded in developing nations that may already have limited medical care for women.

A particular study that focused on pregnant women in a few Latin American and African countries, India and Pakistan, it was shown that “Women in Latin America had the highest level of tobacco use.

women smoking who

The probability of living with a tobacco user was also high in Latin America but highest in Asia. Specific countries such as Argentina and Uruguay had the highest percentages of women who were once regular smokers, who had smoked during their current pregnancy and who thought is was acceptable for women to smoke. As we continue to look at the Latin American region, we can see that one-fifth of the world’s largest tobacco producers are in this region, which includes Argentina and Brazil. With such increased production in these countries, the prices of cigarettes become significantly lowered. In these two latter countries, a pack of premium cigarettes such as the Marlboro brand can cost between US$1 and US$1.99. With these prices, cigarette accessibility is easier and consumption is encouraged. This has serious implications for the population as whole. The smoking rates among women alone are also a point of concern. In Argentina, 22.6% of the women smoke, while in other countries such as Uruguay the percentage is 25.1 percent.

Tobacco Advertising to Russian Women, Part I: Marketing Death to the Vulnerable

As the rate of tobacco use among men is predicted to decrease, the rate among women is estimated to rise to 20% of the woman population by 2025. A major catalyst for this increase in smoking among women is globalization because it allows for the increase in the marketing of tobacco products to middle and low-income areas.

In their efforts to expand their markets, multinational tobacco companies are paying particular attention to women.

The advertisements tend to include words such as ‘menthol’, ‘mild’ and ‘light,’ and seek out women through “alluring marketing campaigns, linking smoking with emancipation and glamour.”

Consequently, the rates of tobacco use among women in regions such as Asia, Africa and Latin America have begun to increase. The lack of strict tobacco control polices in developing countries sets up an environment where little to no advertising restrictions and taxation are not in place to buffer the impending increase in smoking among women. What puts women in developing regions at an even greater disadvantage is the significant shift in tobacco production to their areas, where they are mainly involved in the harvesting.

With all these influences, cessation can be very difficult for women.

There has been research surrounding this topic among many developed nations in order to explore and find the most successful methods, even for women. Many of these studies have expressed that women who attempt to quit on their own “were less likely to quit initially or to remain abstinent at follow up.”

woman-smoking-2When speaking of women in developing countries however, they would experience added barriers due to their low-income status. While women in the developed countries have cessation programs available, not many programs are available to women in developing countries. The latter group of women could significantly benefit from educational programs that teach of the adverse effects of smoking on their health as well as the health of their children. Although these programs may not be set in place in the various areas they are most needed, several organizations have made an effort to draw smoking among women to the public’s attention. For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) published The Tobacco Atlas which is helpful in showing the scope of the issue among women on a worldwide scale. This organization has also negotiated the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which is a treaty supported by 164 Parties and was done “in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic.

This initiative has been particular about pointing out how women are also being affected. In sum, when looking at smoking among women beyond the boundaries of the Western world, the full scope of the issue comes into view.

Here’s a sobering statistic: Heart disease kills one of every four women. And while we can’t change risk factors such as family history and race, medical research has revealed at least seven threats we can overcome through ‘knowledge and action‘.

Focusing on the modifiable risk factors can make drastic changes to our heart’s health,” says Dr. Joseph Rotella, MD, DC.

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to improve your life and health. Any attempt to quit smoking will make you stronger. It’s never too late to reap the benefits, some of which happen within the first few days. With the right combination of practice, determination and support, you will be able to stop smoking for good!

Quit smoking and you’ll start feeling better within 24 hours. The minute you stop smoking, your body will begin cleansing itself of tobacco toxins. Two days after you quit, your risk of heart attack will start decreasing … and that’s just the beginning!

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