Removing Disability Disparities in Women's Health, 2005, 1:5
Just the facts!
- Rates of smoking among women who have physical limitations or disabilities are higher than among other women.
- A national study showed that younger women with physical limitations were twice as likely to smoke as other women the same age in the U.S.
- Many women with physical limitations say they smoke to deal with depression and stress.
- Women with physical limitations are at higher risk of breathing problems, poor circulation, osteoporosis, and skin problems. Smoking increases the risk for these conditions.
- Women with physical limitations are less likely to be asked by their doctor if they smoke than other women.
- Tobacco use slows down the healing process.
- Women who smoke are at a higher risk of having miscarriages and low birth weight babies.
- Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure can cause cancers, stroke, early menopause, facial wrinkling, permanent voice lowering, and urinary incontinence.
- Smoking doubles one's risk of heart attack.
"You have to make a commitment to a healing path ...[and] look at how you want to change your life."*
Tips from women with physical limitations:
- Talk with other women who have quit smoking about their problems and successes related to quitting.
- Ask for support from your family and friends, join a support group, or call a telephone quit-line sponsored by the American Lung Association or similar organizations.
- Remember- having a physical limitation does not make it OK to smoke.
- Learn other ways to relieve your stress such as listening to stress-relieving music or taking a slow, relaxing bath.
- Set a quit date and ask your friends and other loved ones and co-workers to support you by not smoking around you.
- Make a list of your reasons for quitting and put it where you'll see it everyday.
- Each time you would normally buy a pack of cigarettes, put that saved money in a special place and use it to reward yourself with something else.
- Ask your doctor about getting a nicotine replacement product.
- Be prepared for relapses (or "slip-ups"), and think of persons or organizations to call if you relapse.
- Forgive yourself if you slip up or relapse.
- Be proud of your determination to make smoking a thing of the past!
If you are a woman with a physical limitation who:
- is more severely limited in physical activities,
- is overweight or obese,
- already has some health problems stemming from your physical limitation or condition
- started smoking at an early age,
- lives on a low income or below the poverty level,
- or -
- lacks adequate personal assistance
...then you may be at greater risk of health problems associated with smoking.
"I just wanted to stop hurting myself by my smoking."*
Where to get additional information:
- CDC - Fact Sheet - Smoking Cessation - Smoking & Tobacco Use
- Calculate your health risk from smoking
- Office on Smoking and Health
- You can quit smoking now!
"If women see other women doing it [stop smoking], it opens their eyes. This lets them know they can do it too. There's always hope."*
*quotes are from participants in a study by the DisAbled Women's Network Canada, "Relief at What Cost?" www.dawncanada.net/trelief.htm
This publication was made possible by a grant from the Houston Endowment, Inc.