SATURDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- This Fourth of July, the U.S. National Cancer Institute is drawing attention to the public health issue of women and smoking by encouraging American women to take a "Smokefree Pledge" to kick the habit.
The institute said that women are more aware than ever of the dangers of cigarettes, and three out of four female smokers say they would like to quit.
Still, about one in five American women smokes, despite the fact that more than half of these women have attempted to quit in the past year.
Some of the impediments to quitting may be specific to women, the NCI noted. For example, while nicotine addiction is similar for both genders, women are frequently more drawn to cigarettes by other factors such as smell, taste, hand-to-mouth sensation, weight-control aspirations, and mood control.
Emotional issues -- such as an upsetting event -- also play a greater role in luring women back to the habit, the institute said.
Also, women are often less inclined to quit than men, and less confident that they can do so. Statistics indicate that women are more likely than men to resume smoking after attempting to quit, according to the institute.
That said, the NCI pointed out that the health risks associated with smoking can be even greater for women than men.
For example, women face a bigger risk for smoking -related diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and lung cancer than men. And smoking can compromise a woman's reproductive health, as well as the welfare of children for whom women are often the primary caregiver, the institute said.
With these concerns in mind, the NCI's campaign is designed to address these gender-specific issues by creating an online community titled "Smokefree Women" (http://women.smokefree.gov).
The site provides a step-by-step outline for quitting smoking. Accredited counselors are offered through an online chat service, alongside a Facebook page, two Facebook apps (QuitBoost and QuitTracker) and a Twitter feed. The site also offers links to information on free national phone counseling and local services available in communities across the country, the institute said.
For more on women and smoking, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.