Number of Women Tobacco Users Rising

Monday, April 20, 2015

The number of women consuming tobacco products has doubled over 15 years, according to a report by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

While only 10% of women consumed tobacco products during the mid- and late-1990s, the number has increased to 20% in recent years, the report said. Tobacco consumption among men has remained in the range of 45-57% between 1995-96 and 2009-10.

The increase in tobacco consumption among women was largely fueled by the rise in smokeless tobacco use, the PHFI report said. Promotional tactics companies linking linking tobacco consumption to empowerment as another is a significant factor, experts say.

Various surveys and studies show that India is at the second stage of tobacco epidemic where women tend to follow male pattern. “This is an expected rise. India is a developing nation witnessing tremendous socio-economic development coupled with financial independence of women. The tobacco industry sees women as lucrative consumers waiting to be tapped at this point,” Monika Arora, director-health promotion division at PHFI, said.

Women, in both urban and as well as rural settings, see tobacco consumption as a sign of empowerment and hence they follow men, Arora added. This has been further enhanced due to Bollywood films containing tobacco imagery, resulting in large level exposure in India, relative to other countries, she said.

Trends in western countries show men are the first ones to start smoking with a gradual increase in the trend. In the second stage, women follow them.

Source: The Times of India (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
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