Public Enemy No:1

The theme for World No Tobacco Day (May 31) this year is “Gender and Tobacco,” with an emphasis on marketing to women

By Manjari Peiris
Worldwide, smoking rates among women continue to rise, while smoking rates among men have peaked and are declining. Increases in Tobacco use are the result of changes in the role and economic status of women, as economies grow, and changes in social and cultural factors as nations modernise. However, the direct and aggressive marketing of Tobacco targeted to women is the driving factor behind increases in Tobacco use by women seen around the world.

Women comprise 20% of the world’s more than 1 billion smokers, and on average, 22% of women in developed countries are daily smokers, and an average of 9% of women in developing nations smoke. Data collected from 151 countries show that about 7% of adolescent girls smoke cigarettes, as opposed to 12% of adolescent boys. In some countries, almost as many girls smoke as boys.

Varies around the world
Tobacco use among women varies considerably around the world. In some countries, Tobacco use among women is similar to men, while in others, use rates are much lower. The types of Tobacco used by women also vary by country, with cigarettes the Tobacco of choice in some parts of the world, and smokeless Tobacco heavily used in other parts.

The Tobacco industry targets women and girls with aggressive and seductive advertising that exploits ideas of independence, emancipation, sex appeal, slimness, glamour and beauty. In Sri Lanka, film producers/directors and owners of television channels violate the law by showing smoking scenes, even by Sri Lankan actresses. Women’s magazines too provide visual smoking messages; this too had been a practice by certain women’s magazines, where smoking scenes by young women were depicted in magazines, without any relevancy to the subject matter. Stories of popular screen stars or models often include photographs of them smoking. Product placements taking place by misusing well-known fashion accessory shops and clothing too could be recognised in Sri Lanka, before the enactment of the Advertising ban in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, enticements of young women had been reported, especially at Discos sponsored by the industry. According to a researcher, some “golden girls” had approached her and encouraged her; ‘go ahead – I want to see you smoke it now.’ When she refused, saying that it would make her cough, the reply had been, ‘no, these are smoother, not so strong, and reassured, I want to see you smoke it now.’

‘Golden Girls’
The ‘Golden Girls,’ who were believed to be fashion models, were dressed in gold coloured sarees and matching gold platform shoes. Throughout the night, the Brand names flashed onto the walls of the Disco, with a laser beam, as blaring music filled the room with the top 10 dance hits from the West. The Branded cigarettes were freely available from these models. The prize drawings included of key rings with cigarette Brand names, shirts and caps given out repeatedly during the evening.

To further popularise and normalise their product, the industry hires young women to “hand out” at popular shopping malls, on campuses, and on upscale commuter trains, where they distribute free cigarettes and merchandise. Young women are also employed as drivers of famous cigarette Brand cars and jeeps, from which they distribute free cigarette samples and promotional items including hats, T-shirts and lighters. Notably, these women are paid higher salaries than those typically earned by a university graduate.

In the inner world of the Disco, in China, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, young women are invited to participate in behaviour associated with being modern, fashionable and Western. They are directly cajoled and challenged to smoke by glamorous, thin fashion models, whose attire is at once traditional and modern. Thus young women are utilised as vehicles for product promotion, rather than as overt participants in the behaviour. The connection between women and cigarettes is normalised through widespread and repeated exposure.

Deaths increase
Deaths among women aged 20 years and over may rise from 1.5 million in 2004 to 2.5 million by 2030; almost 75% of these projected deaths will occur in low-income and middle-income countries. All forms of Tobacco are both addictive and deadly. The scientific evidence is conclusive that Tobacco use causes a wide variety of cancers, including cancer of the lung, mouth, oesophagus, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and pancreas.

Women smokers are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer, osteoporosis and other conditions of the reproductive system, including spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, infertility, having children with low birth weights, and painful menstruation and premature menopause.
Women smokers also have an elevated risk of stroke, haemorrhage in the membranes that surround the brain, hardening of the arteries, and death from aortic aneurysm.

Women who smoke are twice more likely to suffer a heart attack than a non-smoking woman. The risk of developing coronary heart disease increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, the total number of smoking years, and earlier age of initiation. Women smokers have a higher relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease than men. The reasons for the difference are not yet known, but could be due to Tobacco smoke having an adverse effect on oestrogen. Women smokers have an elevated risk of stroke, haemorrhage in membranes that surround the brain, hardening of arteries, and death from aortic aneurysm than non-smokers. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives are up to 40 times more likely to have a heart attack than women who neither smoke nor use birth control.

Lung cancer
The risk of developing lung cancer is 13 times higher for current women smokers, compared with lifelong non-smokers. Aden carcinomas, a previously rare type of lung cancer that affects the very small airways of the lung, are more prevalent among women smokers than men smokers. Women smokers are nearly 13 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, compared with women who have never smoked. Women smokers have a higher risk of severe COPD and reduced lung function than male smokers, especially when the level of smoking exposure is low. Smoking by girls can reduce their rate of lung growth and the level of maximum lung function. Women who smoke may experience a premature decline of lung function.
Women smokers are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer than non-smokers. Smokers have an increased risk for cancer of the larynx, oral cavity, bladder, pancreas, uterus, kidney, stomach, oesophagus, liver, colorectal cancer.

Smoking reduces a woman’s fertility. Women smokers tend to take longer to conceive than women non-smokers, and women smokers are at a higher risk of not being able to get pregnant at all. Smoking by pregnant women increases the risk of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, infertility and having children with low birth weights who suffer from serious medical problems. Women who smoke are more likely to experience premature menopause than non-smokers. On average, women who are current smokers experience menopause 1-2 years earlier than non smoking peers.

Smokers are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis and hip fractures than non smokers. Smoking has also been linked with facial wrinkling. Smokers were significantly more likely than non-smokers to be evaluated with having prominent wrinkling.

Second-hand smoke
Globally, an estimated one-third of adults are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke alone causes approximately 600,000 premature deaths per year worldwide. Because the prevalence of smoking is much higher in men than in women, second-hand smoke disproportionately harms women. Of all deaths attributable to second-hand smoke, 64% occur among women. Second-hand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and other health problems. While women smoke less than men, many non smoking women and girls still suffer increased risk of lung cancer and other health issues due to second-hand smoke exposure from men.
Exposure to second-hand smoke among pregnant women is a major cause of spontaneous abortions, stillbirths, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) after birth.
Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke is a leading cause of death for women. Because, the prevalence of smoking is much higher in men than in women, second-hand smoke disproportionately harms women.

A 2002 report by the World Health Organization, conclusively confirms that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and other health problems. While women smoke less than men, many non-smoking women still suffer increased risk of lung cancer and death because their husbands or partners smoke.
The Tobacco industry views the female population as an opportunity for growth and aggressively markets products towards them.

The number of women smokers in the developing world will increase, if no action is taken to stop the Tobacco companies from targeting women and girls. Therefore, strong action must be taken to protect women from the harms of Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. Tobacco control policies, such as smoke-free environments, Tobacco marketing bans, graphic warning labels and increased Tobacco taxes reduce Tobacco use, and will save the lives of women around the world.


Kusala, Akusala and Punna, Papa: A Study of Ethics

By Bikkhuni Halpandeniye Supeshala
The literal meaning of karma is action. The base of action is chetana chetasika – meaning volition, and the volition can be either kusala or akusala. This means that all behaviours enacted can be either good or bad depending whether they have arisen from the wholesome base of kusala or the unwholesome base of akusala.

If we do good deeds, we can have good results and bad deeds will bring bad results. This is the theory of karma. We can find the theory of karma, mentioned very clearly in the first two stanzas of the Dhammapada:
“If one speaks or acts with a wicked mind, pain follows one as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught ox.
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows one as the shadow that never departs.”
The Buddha declared to the monks, “I declare O Bhikkhus that volition (chetana) is kamma, having willed one acts by body, speech or thought.”

It is the will or volition that causes the performing of kusala or akusala physically, verbally or mentally. Once the kusala or akusala karma has been performed, it becomes the cause (paccaya) for the appropriate results to arise. Every volitional action of an unenlightened person is called karma. In the workings of karma the most important feature is the mind as all our words and deeds that we are experiencing at that moment are coloured by the mind – or consciousness.

The causes
In the Anguttaranikaya Chakkanipata Nidana Sutta, the Buddha preached about akusala and kusala mula.
“Behold Bhikkhu. What are the three causes of akusala-mula? They are lobha, dosa and moha. These are the three causes of akusala. Behold Bhikkhu, akusala are attachment, hatred and delusion.”
“Behold Bhikkhu. These are the three causes of kusala-mula. What are they?
Alobha, adosa and amoha. Behold Bhikkhu, these are the three causes of kusala. Kusala are non-attachment, non-hatred and non-delusion.”
We can see 10 kinds of wholesome action from the Tripitaka ‘kusalakamma,’ namely:
1. Generosity (Dana)
2. Morality (Sila)
3. Meditation (Bhavana)
4. Reverence (Apachayana)
5. Service (Veyyavachcha)
6. Transference of merit
7. Rejoicing in others’ good action (Anumodana)
8. Hearing the doctrine (Dhammasavana)
9. Expounding the doctrine (Dhammadesana)
10. Straightening ones own views (Ditthijukamma)
The Buddha’s teaching, and in fact the teaching of all the Buddhas throughout the ages, can be summarised as:
“To avoid all evil; to cultivate good; to purify one’s mind. This is the teaching of all of the Buddhas”
Sabbapapassa akaranam – Kusalassa upasampada
Sachitta pariyo dapanam – Etam Buddhana sasanam

Path to Nibbana
In order to attain Nibbana, one must eliminate akusala by cultivating kusala. According to Buddhism, evil that has its root in the mind can manifest through actions of body, speech and mind.
The evil manifested through bodily behaviours are:
1. Killing – various forms of violent behaviour involving causing physical harm to living beings
2. Stealing – the violation of the property right of another to satisfy one’s own greed and selfish interests
3. Sexual misconduct – the wrong indulgence in sensuous pleasures in one’s sexual life
The evil manifested through verbal behaviour are:
1. False speech
2. Harsh or unpleasant speech, expressions of anger or ill-will
3. Slanderous speech intended to create dissension and conflict between people
4. Gossip or frivolous talk which serves no meaningful or useful purpose
The evil manifested through mental activities are:
1. Thoughts of intense greed
2. Thoughts of ill-will
3. Wrong beliefs that degrade one’s morality

The practices prescribed by Buddhism are methods to get rid of the above negative behaviours and replace them with compassionate action. The transforming of one’s inner environment and outward behaviour in this way creates merit (punna) that will bring blessings to one’s life, either now or in the future. The practice of generating punna should not be disregarded as a means to emancipation. Punna brings rebirth in a good environment that is conducive to further practice and repetition of compassionate behaviours and can be helpful to cultivate the mind and overcome selfishness, which is the main obstacle in the way of Nibbana. In short, karma is the law of cause and effect in the ethical realm.

Results of karma
Nowadays many people think that there are no consequences to the doer of good or had behaviour. Some people believe that karma doesn’t exist or that there is no life after death where we will be accountable for our behaviour. The Buddha has assured us that everyone will have to reap the consequences of their actions. This is because the chitta is where the karma and keles are accumulated, and the chitta has a stream of continuous existence that flows into the next birth.

The karma remains part of the chitta until it has the opportunity to ripen. For example, we might think we can get away with stealing something if no one finds out, but the chitta is the reality that transfers karma and kelesa. And the karma, once performed, must bring results.
The study of karma would make us certain that such a phenomenon does exist. Those who do bad deeds usually do not believe in karma bringing results, so long as they are not experiencing the results of their actions. Since the kusala karma that was generated in the past is still being experienced, they become over-confident that there are no consequences for themselves with their bad behaviour. But karma transcends space and time. On the other hand those who have performed good deeds pray that they will see positive consequences for themselves quickly. When the good results have not yet arisen, they feel discouraged and hopeless and doubt whether there is any truth in the theory of karma.
In the Dhammapadatthalatha, the commentary of Khuddakanikaya says, “When kamma brings results, the foolish would correctly see.”

When the Buddha taught the rich and the devas about the effects (vipaka) from good and bad karma, He said”
“Behold householder, those who perform bad deeds in this world would think them good as long as the bad deeds have not brought results.
But when their bad deeds bear fruit, they would see that bad deeds are truly evil.
Contrarily, those who perform good deeds would think that they are bad so long as the good karma has not yet brought results. But when their good deeds bear fruit, they would see that good deeds are truly good.”
Workings of deeds
The Buddhist scriptures contain many examples of the Buddha elucidating the workings of karma. A man named Subha came to the Buddha and asked, “O Lord, what is the reason and cause that we find amongst mankind the short and long, the diseased and healthy, the ugly and beautiful, the powerless and the powerful, the poor and rich, the foolish and the wise?”

The Buddha answered:
“All beings have their own karma that differentiates beings into low and high states. If a person is in the habit of harming others, as a result of his harming, when born among mankind he will suffer from various diseases. If a person is not in the habit of harming others, as a result of his harmlessness, when he is born amongst mankind, he will enjoy good health”
“If a person is wrathful and turbulent, is irritated by a trivial word, gives vent to anger, ill-will and resentment, as a result of his irritability when born among mankind he will be ugly. If a person is not wrathful and turbulent, is not irritated even by a torrent of abuse, does not give vent to anger, ill-will and resentment, as a result of his amiability, when born amongst mankind he will be beautiful.”

The motivation for cultivating wholesome states of mind can come from our own experience. Feeling anger and hatred is very disturbing and upsetting. Most people, if questioned, would say that they would prefer never to feel anger or hatred. This is because we know that it is not an enjoyable feeling.

Keles such as anger bring immediate suffering to those who feel it. We can also see the immediate happiness that comes to the mind when we do an act of kindness or generosity to someone. Being motivated by a feeling of compassion is uplifting and inspiring. We feel happy when we make others happy and this is a simple example of cause and effect in our own minds. Religious actions that we do such as meditation or chanting can also bring an immediate feeling of calmness and clarity to the mind. By paying attention to how our behaviour influences our state of mind is a way to see what causes fulfilment and what brings suffering to our minds.

According to the Buddhist concept of karma, one is not enslaved as karma is neither fate nor predestination imposed on us by some mysterious unknown power outside of our control. Each person has the power to divert the future course of one’s life and accept responsibility for one’s own state. How far one diverts it depends on oneself.