Rich, powerful women more likely to light up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 2011, 12:00am

Powerful and wealthy women are more likely to take up smoking, according to a worldwide study.

Researchers from Canada's University of Waterloo looked at 74 countries, including China. Their findings were published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation. Hong Kong was not included in the study.

It found that women in positions of power are more likely to smoke, regardless of their country's level of economic development.

A 'gender empowerment measure' was calculated from United Nations statistics and compared with WHO data on smoking rates. Among the factors were the number of parliamentary seats held by women, when women won the right to vote and incomes.

Sweden came out on top, with more Swedish women in positions of power and more women smokers than men.

It was followed by Iceland, Britain, Norway, Serbia, Cuba and Venezuela.

Chinese women were moderately empowered, with a relatively low smoking rate compared with men.

Hong Kong's smoking rate for women was 3.7 per cent last year, up from 2.9 per cent in 1998. Women in Hong Kong comprise 53 per cent of the workforce but hold only 29 per cent of leadership positions, official data show.