I will admit sometimes I get the urge to have a cigarette. I’m not sure what it’s about, but when I’m standing around a group of people drinking and inhaling their secondhand smoke, it causes that urge. In college I discovered cloves and bidis, what I now refer to as hipster cigarettes. I even keep a stash of cloves somewhere in my house, just in case that urge hits, but it doesn’t happen often.

Don’t get me started on hookah. Pineapple mixed with watermelon at my favorite hookah lounge in DC along with a couple of tapas? It was one of my favorite social activities.

Although I wouldn’t refer to myself as a frequent ‘smoker.’ I’ve undoubtedly smoked.

Lady smokers of the world, it’s not a good look for us. Especially if you don’t want to die an early death.

In Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, new research was published that shows U.S. women who smoke today have a much greater risk of dying from lung cancer than they did decades ago. Women are now puffing away, just like men. And we’re dying, right along with them. The risk of death from lung cancer has been rising steadily since the 1960s, when female smokers were 2.7 times more likely to die from the disease compared with women who didn’t smoke. By the 1980s, women who smoked were 12.6 times more likely to die from lung cancer, and in the 2000s, they were 25.7 times more likely to die, according to the study.

Smoking is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the U.S.,” says Tim McAfee, a co-author of the study. “We need to do more to educate the American people about these findings,” adds McAfee, director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Steven A. Schroeder of the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a commentary in the journal, “More women die of lung cancer than of breast cancer. But there is no ‘race for the cure’ for lung cancer, no brown ribbon” or high-profile advocacy groups for lung cancer.”

Breast cancer prevention? Easily brandable and marketed.

Lung cancer prevention? Not so much, apparently.

I have friends and family who have smoked since their teens, with no plans on stopping. I think the next time I get an urge for a clove, I’ll just chew a sugar-free piece of gum. Wait, that sugar-free product will probably cause cancer eventually too. Damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.

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  • Inquiring minds

    I don’t get it. Why do people start smoking to begin with? Surely 1 cigarette or a few puffs doesn’t addict a person. This isn’t heroin or crack– It takes more than a few ‘tries” to get hooked on this nasty habit, so why do people do it to themselves?!

    • Kat

      that’s actually exactly how it starts lol You smoke one and assume that smoking another one won’t do anything and then you smoke another and another (maybe not all at once but yea) For a lot of people it’s just a social/casual thing they do that turns into a habit. I think most people just assume that quitting is easier than it really is

    • Pseudonym

      I think a lot of people start put with social smoking (i.e. “I only smoke when I’m drunk” types) and then one day, after years of social smoking, they buy their own pack. A random note: when I was in college, a few times I witnessed Asian kids having their first cigarette outside the library bc their friend (who was explaining the process, hence me knowing what was going on) was telling them that the nicotine will help them to stay awake. Also, hookah is a gateway. I think the worse is smoking to relieve stress or out of boredom. Bc there will always be stress and there will always be boredom of some sort and it’s hard to shake the association once it’s locked in. I definitely don’t recommend taking up the habit. I can smoke one night every 3-6 months bc my metabolism seems to not allow for physical dependence and I have a few friends that can do this, but for most people, it will become highly addictive.

      And reminder: cigarettes + oral contraceptives= blood clot risk.

    • chanela17

      asian people love them some cigarettes! it’s weird to see an asian person who ISN’T smoking.

    • Nakia

      So true. I’ve been a “social smoker” since college. No one in my family, nor anyone I work with has ever seen, nor heard of, me smoking. It started, like the author, with Bidis, then it was clove cigars, now clove cigarettes – no longer the crazy brown cigar type every one is familiar with (which I hate), but other variations, discovered along the way, that are less “harsh” than those.

      The problem is that the person I socialize with most is now a habitual smoker, converted from a social, which means whenever she’s around, I’m a smoker too. The associations are serious: with alcohol, with coffee, when stressed, when on vacation and certainly, when heartbroken (that’s stress, too, i guess). The saving grace for me is that clove cigarettes (not cigars) are no longer legal in the US and have to be mail ordered. That put an immediate end to any stress induced solo smoking, as I’m not “into it” enough for that. I’ve been saying I’d stop the social smoking for 2 years now…but then I’m sitting at a beach side bar or standing tipsy on a balcony, laughing or crying or both, clove in hand. Ugh!


    Good article. I often wonder why people start something in the first place. It’s bad for your health, smells bad, costs money, etc. I guess I’ll never know…

    Now, I have an English question for the author. Shouldn’t your title be “Women Are Now Just As Likely To Die From Smoking AS Men”? Instead of …LIKE men. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe it should be AS not LIKE.

    I don’t claim to be the best English language expert, I’m just allergic to taïpos and poor grammer ;-)

    • English Teacher

      Like is a preposition used to show similar characteristics or relationships.

      Therefore, it is being used correctly, since “dying” is the shared characteristic.

      You fail at being snarky…

    • Stop That

      Name Withheld..

      grammer = no. grammar = a ok.

      Note of the day: Proof read your shit before proofreading other peoples’ shit.


      @Stop That
      I deliberately wrote TAÏPOS and poor GRAMMER to be ironic.


    @English Teacher. Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad to know some people still care for grammar.

    From I found «Women are now just as likely as men to die from smoking».

    Here are more examples of the usage of “just as likely to” you can find online:

    «University graduates just as likely to be unemployed as school leavers with one GCSE.»

    «Men are just as likely to suffer from binge eating disorder as women – but less likely to seek help.»

    «Most Canadians feel immigrants are just as likely to be good Canadian citizens as people who were born here.»

    «A new study says that Adults are just as bad as teens at texting while driving»

    «Americans Are as Likely to Be Killed by Their Own Furniture as by Terrorism»

    See, you don’t just use as likely to (verb) + like.

    • Camryn

      Don’t have much of a life, huh?

    • Hmmmm…

      LOL. I think the issue is that the author wanted to make a statement about women “women smoking like men” and dying from it. She conflated the ideas and came up with the title.

  • I used e-cigs, and since then, I’ve lost my need for nicotine or the impulse to pull air into the lungs.

    They’re a better alternative for those who want to stop with tobacco.

  • opinionatedgal

    Thanks for the article! I think that we have so many health risk factors, aside from smoking (diet, lifestyle, environment), that lower our life expectancy, that raising awareness on a habit that absolutely increases your risk of death and that has no health benefits, is something that deserves our attention.