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Advertising Today

Today the cigarette companies use the same themes of independence, glamour and thinness to sell cigarettes to women in developing countries. As well, companies use the fact that women in developing countries see Western products as symbols of prestige and quality[1]. For example, it is common for women’s brands in Asia to feature Western models. Capri Superslim cigarettes in Japan feature a blond woman.

Using Western models or symbols may also be a way to avoid offending the traditional mainstay culture. In India for instance, a cigarette company employed Indian models to give away free samples. After much criticism, the company explained that the models were not wearing traditional Indian attire and that their product was targeted to "emancipated women". The company further advertised that they would deliver cartons of cigarettes to women at their homes due to their reluctance to go into shops to buy them.

Many anti-smoking groups and campaigns use images and approaches that are evocative of cigarette advertising. Adbusters are especially effective in this way.  In Canada, we are far more likely to see health warning advertising than we are cigarette advertising.  

Health Canada website and Media Photo Gallery, Health Canada, Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2006.


1. Ernster, V., Kaufman, N., Nichter, M., Samet, J., Yoon, S.Y. (2000) Women and tobacco: moving from policy to action. Bull WHO, 78(7): 891-901.

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