MORE women are dying from lung cancer than breast cancer as levels of smoking among women reach epidemic levels.
A new report has found that almost one-in-three women now smoke, with more younger women taking up smoking.
According to the report, launched in Dublin today by TD Alex White, one in two younger and more disadvantaged women are smokers.
And women from poorer backgrounds are twice as likely to suffer from lung cancer.
The level of smoking among young women in disadvantaged areas is 56pc, according to the Irish Cancer Society (ICS).
“We have a major concern about the high rates of smoking among Irish women, particularly because lung cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as the main cause of cancer death among women in Ireland,” said Kathleen O'Meara of the ICS.
“We are also very concerned about the fact that more disadvantaged women are smoking and that the incidence of lung cancer in this social group is almost twice as high as that among better-off women.”
The report publishes the findings of a major conference organised by the ICS with the National Women's Council of Ireland last July.
The conference investigated why such high numbers of women were smoking and what could be done.
The report also features research on how the tobacco industry is targeting women with specific marketing tactics designed to make cigarettes appear less dangerous.
Lung cancer is now the biggest cancer killer in Ireland among both men and women, with 1,708 people dying in 2010, 702 of whom were women.
Breast cancer deaths for the same period amounted to 634.
Smoking is the key cause of lung cancer and the number of cases is expected to grow each year.
Efforts have already been made this year to help curb the levels of smoking among women with the I'll Quit When I'm 30 advertisements and a leaflet – The Beauty of Quitting – aimed at younger women, published by the ICS.