Report: Alaska ranks No. 2 in number of adult women who smoke

Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A new report says Alaska ranks second in the nation in the number of female smokers per capita.

The report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said 29.4 percent of all Alaska adult women, or 58,000, smoke. Only Nevada has a higher ratio, at 30.3 percent. Ohio was No. 3, with 26 percent.

''We're in really bad shape in this area,'' said Ruthamae Karr, tobacco project coordinator at the Interior Neighborhood Health Clinic in Fairbanks.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. Its findings are based on a surgeon general's report that says tobacco is a leading killer of women.

The organization is denouncing tobacco companies for targeting women and girls in its advertising.

Tobacco companies spent $11 million advertising and promoting their products in Alaska last year, Karr said.

''We spent $700,000 for counter-marketing,'' she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Double that amount and that's what the state spent on tobacco programs as a whole, Karr said. That's just a fraction of the $8 million the federal government recommends, she said.

''This, to me, is not acceptable,'' Karr said.

She takes particular exception to ads depicting smoking as glamorous.

''The women in the ads are young and vibrant and they're having fun,'' Karr said. ''They're being pursued by good-looking guys.''

The ads are appealing to girls and young women, who sometimes use tobacco as an appetite suppressant or stress reliever, she said.

''They start thinking they can have two or three (cigarettes) a day, then they become addicted,'' Karr said.

The report shows Alaska needs to work harder to reduce tobacco use, she said.

''We need more money for programs to make women more aware of the health consequences of smoking.''

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