Spain's Health Minister, Elena Salgado, has announced this morning the number of Spanish women who smoke has doubled during the last 25 years, rising from 16.6 percent to 31.3 percent. Meanwhile the number of male smokers in Spain has dropped by 24 percent.
In the clearest example yet that recent anti-smoking campaigns launched by past Spanish governments have been totally ineffective, Salgado said that during the past five years the number of women smokers had risen by over 4 percent and, even worse, that no less than 30 out of every 100 pregnant women smoke during their pregnancy.
According to the figures released by the Spanish minister this morning, girl teenagers tend to start smoking before boys.
Alcohol abuse among young women is also on the rise. In 1997, 38 percent of girls between 15 and 19 years old said they had been drunk at least once. By 2003 the figure had risen to 51 percent. Elena Salgado warned that smoking and drinking habits among young Spanish women were causing a gradual deterioration in their health. During the last decade, the life expectancy of women has risen by just 2.3 years compared to a rise of 2.8 years among Spanish men.
According to the Spanish health minister, one of eight women ministers in Rodriguez Zapatero's government, part of the blame for problems with tabacco and alcohol among Spanish women lies with the different social roles assigned to men and women. She said that her ministry's Observatory on Women's Health would be studying ways of solving sex discrimination in terms of wages, working conditions and promotion.
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