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ImageA new study has indicated that empowered women smoke more than men.

According to a report, though it was only in the west that smoking among women was associated with empowerment, but this pattern is now repeating itself as women in poorer countries become more liberated.

Sara Hitchman and Geoffrey Fong at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, analysed the relationship between gender inequality and smoking prevalence in women compared to men in 74 countries.

The study found that, worldwide, men are five times as likely to smoke as women, but the results showed that in countries where women are more empowered their smoking rates are catching up or exceeding men's, regardless of the country's wealth.

" Tobacco industry marketing strategies over the years have targeted women in countries where their independence is growing," New Scientist quoted Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health in London, as saying.

She cites the example of a cigarette brand from the 1960s whose slogan read: "You've come a long way, baby".

The report has been published in Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO).

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