Women's reasons for smoking are often different than men's.  They may smoke because they want help with weight loss. They may think it makes them appear more glamorous, independent, or mature.  Young women may smoke simply because that's what their mother's did. Everyone knows cigarettes are bad for them but now, new studies show that smoking is even worse for women than it is for men. Findings show that women appear to be more susceptible to diseases caused by cigarettes' toxic chemicals.

While smoking rates in women continue to decline, some women still need motivation to put down the smokes once and for all. Here, the bad news and good news about women and smoking. 

The Bad News:

New studies suggest women smokers develop lung disease earlier than men. In the study, women younger than 60 had worse lung damage from COPD than men younger than 60.  The study also suggested that women are susceptible to more lung damage with fewer cigarettes than men, possibly because women have smaller airways.

Smoking causes 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women in the U.S. each year and has surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

Smoking causes more than 90 percent of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),emphysema, and chronic bronchitis deaths each year.

More than half of all deaths from COPD occur in women.

Female smokers are nearly 13 times more likely to die from COPD, compared to women who have never smoked.

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease in women. More than half of heart attacks in women under 50 are related to smoking. Women are less likely to survive heart attacks than men. Women who smoke and use birth control pills increase their risk even more.

Women can pass cigarette damage on to their children:

  •  New research shows a link between smoking during pregnancy and development of psychotic symptoms in their adolescent children.  The more they smoke, the higher the risk. While the direct cause is unclear, researchers suggest that exposure to tobacco in the womb may have an indirect impact by affecting children's brain development.
  • Women who smoke have a greater chance of miscarriage, delivering prematurely, and having babies with low birth weight.

The Good News:

Women who quit smoking dramatically reduce their risks of developing smoking-related diseases and dying prematurely.

Some studies suggest that women with mild to moderate COPD who quit smoking improve their lung function and their ability to breathe easier twice as quickly as men.

Women who stop smoking can lower their risk of heart attack by one third within 2 years.

If these aren't enough reasons to quit, consider this:  Women who smoke have yellower teeth and more wrinkled skin than women who don't smoke.  It's all about making a choice to have a healthy body...both inside and out.  



Zammit S, Thomas K, Thompson A, Horwood J, Menezes P, Gunnell D, Hollis C, Wolke D, Lewis G and Harrison G. Maternal tobacco, cannabis and alcohol use during pregnancy and risk of adolescent psychotic symptoms in offspring. British Journal of Psychiatry, 195: 294-300


American Lung Association