Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Olympia - March 27, 2001 - A new Surgeon General's report on women and smoking underscores the need for effective anti-smoking efforts to counter the tobacco industry's marketing to women and girls, Attorney General Christine Gregoire said today.

The study, released this morning, concluded that the once-wide gender gap between male and female smokers narrowed until the mid-1980s, and has since remained fairly constant. In 1999, 20.8 percent of Washington women smoked, compared to 24 percent of men, according to state Department of Health statistics.

Tobacco ads and other promotions-which tell girls and women that smoking leads to social desirability and independence-are one of the factors influencing the likelihood that girls will smoke, the Surgeon General's report said.

"We may have come a long way baby, but not far enough to outrun the tobacco industry's sophisticated marketing machine," Gregoire said.

Gregoire called for continued efforts at the state level to "counter punch" the industry's attempts to entice a new generation of tobacco users. She also emphasized the need to more forcefully counter smoking ads that appeal to girls and young women.

"Unless we reaffirm our commitment to an effective anti-tobacco campaign, we will continue to mourn the early deaths of sisters, mothers and grandmothers, just as we have grieved over the deaths of brothers, fathers and grandfathers," she said.

The Surgeon General's report found that each year during the 1990s, U.S. women lost an estimated 2.1 million years of life due to smoking-related deaths caused by diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease. For every death attributed to smoking, an average of 14 years of life was lost.

Gregoire urged members of the Legislature to carefully review the new Surgeon General's study and continue funding Washington's tobacco-prevention and control efforts.

Gregoire said the comprehensive anti-smoking programs funded by the 1998 tobacco settlement are working. She vowed to keep fighting to protect the money and to ensure it is used as intended-to fight the war against tobacco.

"I will raise my voice against any effort to divert these resources away from effective anti-tobacco programs," she said.