Cigarettes and hookah are luring Indian women more into the smoking habit and two recent surveys from India clearly show women smokers in India are growing in alarming numbers especially in certain professions such as the BPO and the media.
Two independent surveys showed 8% of women in BPO centers smoked and in media organizations the percentage of women smokers varied from 5 to 35 % . These figures are large considering the national average of 1.5 women smokers in India.
Dr. Gauravi Mishra led a team from the Tata Memorial Hospital, studying the smoking habits of 646 BPO employees from four work centers over a period of 18 months. Dr. Ravikant Mishra from an NGO, 'Doctors for You' studied 1500 media persons from the print, electronic and ad companies. Researchers have opined that there has been a significant increase in women smokers since 2007.
Dr. Singh observed that some women smokers said they took to the habit to quell hunger pangs and two from the advertising field were diagnosed with tuberculosis. Majority of the women surveyed did not know that smoking could spike infertility apart from leading to heart disease and cancer. Said Dr. Mishra, "Smoking can cause infertility, miscarriages and still births. It is worrying women don't know about this."
Call it a mistaken sense of women's emancipation, flaunting a fashion, buckling under stress or just bowing down to peer pressure, more Indian women are increasingly throwing caution to the winds and taking to tobacco use, especially smoking.