Opening a Global Gold Mine: Globalization, Gender, and Transnational Tobacco Companies



A key factor driving the shifting regional priorities of transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) toward developing countries has been the often huge disparity in smoking prevalence rates between men and women. The prospect of narrowing this gap is hugely enticing, and selling tobacco products to women has been plausibly described as “the single largest product marketing opportunity in the world.” 1 This echoes the situation in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, when cigarette manufacturers first began to target women in a sustained effort to expand the smoking population. In the 1920s George Washington Hill, then president of American Tobacco, famously likened successfully boosting smoking among women to “opening a new gold mine right in our front yard.”2 This resonance is of more than merely historical interest, since methods originally developed to target American women are now being applied by TTCs in emerging markets.


Tobacco Control Smoking Prevalence Tobacco Industry Female Smoker Tobacco Company 
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© Ilona Kickbusch, Kari A. Hartwig, and Justin M. List 2005

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