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Spring: 1929. Hundreds of beautiful women walk in the main streets of New York holding burning cigarettes. The man who organized this parade (Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, known also as ‘father of public relations’) explains to the journalists that these women were suffragettes, smoking their ‘torches of freedom’. Women appealed for equal rights with men – smoking on public. This is how one of the most significant movements – feminism - was born. This is how one of the biggest lies - smoking makes your life better - was spread.

Spring: 2011. Almost hundred years later. Kate Moss walking for Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week lights up cigarette demonstrating that smoking is money which is more important than human life and health. But for sure for young teenage girls it looks totally cool.

Fall: 2011. Ukrainian web site of Kiss cigarettes brand offers to young female consumers to fulfill their dreams. ‘Biscuit taste, caramel and chocolate mousse is a perfect combination for a sweet tooth.’ You think: This is an advertisement of a new café flavor? No, this is a new taste of cigarettes targeted for young girls. Tobacco companies claim that their aim is not to attract teenagers to smoking, but to distinguish their brand from others. Please, someone can explain to me, how adult man or woman can peck on this trick with biscuits?...

Nowadays it is almost impossible to imagine modern Ukrainian teenage girls without cigarette and beer. When I was a schoolgirl in Soviet times, in my school almost noone girl smoked. Those couple were from difficult families and known as problem children. Now if you don’t smoke you are different, not accepted to some groups, “you are not cool”. More than half of schoolmates of my 15’year niece regularly smoke. Girls more often than boys.

Aggressive advertisement targeting young girls works. Offering freedom of choice, tobacco companies don’t say nothing about lifelong addiction they impose. We must to say the truth. We must to open eyes of these innocent victims who really believe that cigarette is the way to look stylish and “western”. We must to say that smoking is not just glamorous package. Smoking provokes illnesses, pain and finally kills. It kills beauty, health and our children. We must to shout it until is not too late. Ukraine needs healthy future generations. We must to speak with teenagers on their language, going to the places where they go. They adore social nets. Web 2.0 is one of the most powerful tool to speak with youth and fianally help them to change their lives for better.

Ladies, is in Our hands to stop this Death Rhapsody in Pink. So let’s do it! Make the first step, tomorrow could be too late – stop smoking today.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.

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Comments

Very interesting perspective. And I totally appreciate your reference to events of different periods of time. It's cool to be able to look back in history to figure out how we've reached certain points today.

Rahel, for me it is very sad to know that after the USSR failed such a big money was moved to post-Soviet countries to promote smoking. The worst - it works. While developed countries adopt more and more strict legislation about tobacco control, in my country all adopted laws in this field leave such a huge opportunities for promotion of smoking. Of course, young girls are so impressive, so sensitive to any advertisement which shows "how to become cool". It seems to them so cool to take out of your purse pink "glamorous" package of cigarettes. Of course tobacco companies don't tell them how awful they will smell after smoking and how old their skin will look, worst - what will happen with them from inside. we need to change it for sure.

That's a growing problem, tobacco addiction is a spreading plague. Just a couple of weeks ago I found out a lady, who was my neighbor, is dying of lung cancer. She was addicted to cigarettes and smoke for so many years until she developed cancer. It's very sad, but our doble standard societies have legalized the use of this slow-killing drug.

Absolutely agree with you, Maddy. Today if they would try to move to the market such a unique product which not only kills half of its consumers but also kills people around, could be impossible. Then we could just ban it, no? So easy. But! At least in Ukraine one third of people are already addicted. So we can't just move cigarettes. Still we need to change this double standard. I want my children grow in society where smoking is rare and not accepted as social norm.

Hi Iryna,

Thank you for highlighting this important issue, I really enjoyed reading your article. I would love to hear more about what solutions you would suggest to combat this problem, which unfortunately is increasingly affecting young girls.

Nargiz

Hi Nargiz,

Thank you for attention to this problem. I noticed that you live in UK. And I also know that this country has very strong tobacco control legislation. I would really appreciate if you could share your experience how it works. If people are satisfied and support smoke free place? And by your own view, women and young girls smoke much?

Dear Iryna!

I really enjoyed your post. You have a writing style that is very fresh and crisp. You really connected the major historical events and kept your writing flowing through out the piece. Smoking is indeed a health hazard that lures young people especially when they have peer pressure to take care of and do not take their health into account.

I do wish to know more about your personal vision on how you would want to see the situation tackled within your community in Ukraine and how do you think the VOF/PulseWire platform can be helpful for facilitating that vision?

Keep writing.

Kind regards.

Iffat Gill