A recent study, which reviewed data from 1980 to 2012 across 187 countries, reported the prevalence of smoking and cigarette consumption. Cigarette smoking among Indian men has fallen from 33.8% to 23% but it has risen to 3.2% among Indian women.
Smoking in women has increased over the years and has become a global trend with some rare exceptions like Japan. The urban population have adapted to the habit as the women in rural areas have always used tobacco.
Sapna Nangia, oncologist said, "There has been a rise in the number of women smoking cigarettes and there are two main reasons for it. The first is a carefully devised plan by the tobacco industry which has faced a lot of lawsuits in this regard in the west, and has therefore realised that instead of going on facing the difficulty of advertising their product there, it would be easier to encourage women in India and China to smoke under the pretext of making smoking a socially acceptable norm. If women in India and China started smoking in big numbers, the tobacco companies felt that they would no longer have to depend on the west. This, plus a mistaken notion that smoking denotes independence of women, has led to the numbers rising."
India is the third largest producer of tobacco and the second largest consumer of tobacco products worldwide. Another study in 2012 further found that tobacco consumption was related to 42% of cancers in men and 18.3% cancers in women.
"The only way out of this health mess is for the government to implement the anti-tobacco laws more effectively. Increasing taxes, I feel, hardly discourages people, and it's only the government that benefits. Advertisements against tobacco usage like the ones in movie theatres is one of the best ways to make people aware and therefore discourage them," said Kailashnath Gupta, a pulmonologist.