U.S. Spending $653K to 'Reduce Tobacco Use' Among Brazilian Women

August 8, 2013 - 1:29 PM

smoking

(AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The National Institutes of Health is funding a program to convince female “light-smokers” in Brazil to kick their bad habit, at a cost to American taxpayers of $653,190.

“There is a great need for the development of gender-relevant tobacco control efforts,” the description of the study on the NIH website reads. “We have established community and institutional capacity to promote gender-relevant tobacco control efforts among women in a tobacco producing states in Brazil.”

Scientists are hoping their research will allow them to design a culturally- and gender-specific “intervention” convincing Brazilian women not to light up.

“The goals of the network are to reduce tobacco use and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) among women in Paraná [southern Brazil], and to develop a cadre of well-trained researchers who will continue to address comprehensive tobacco control strategies at multiple levels,” the grant application said.

“Although, historically, tobacco use among women in developing countries, particularly Latin America, has been relatively low as compared to men,”it continued, “the smoking epidemic is rapidly spreading to women in developing countries, and these three Southern states [Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul] have the highest prevalence of women smokers in the country.”

According to the World Health Organization, taxes levied on tobacco products yields the Brazilian government $2.2 billion annually, but this half-a-million dollar smoking-cessation grant is being taken from the pockets of American taxpayers.

WHO says Brazil “has been at the forefront of global tobacco control initiatives” even without U.S. assistance. This was evidenced by the fact that smoking prevalence in Brazil has dropped from 34 percent to 15 percent over the past two decades.

“But the declining trend has tailed off over the past few years as tobacco companies target new consumers, notably women.” the report also noted.

Dr. Isabel Scarinci, principal researcher for the study, did not return a request by CNSNews.com for an interview.