Women Smokers Gamble with Life
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31 May 2010
By Shweta Singh
Survey says 150 out of every 1,000 women in india sport a cigarette
Peer Pressure, Disposable Income, Stress Make Them Puff Away
World no Tobacco Day
“I feel that my mind is not functioning at full capacity till I take a puff. It burns a hole in my pocket, but my need to feel accepted by friends is greater,” Priyanka Shrivastava (22), a college student, said.
She was tempted to try it when friends insisted and the habit stuck making her a chain smoker. Now, she wants to quit, but the motivation is just not strong enough, she said. The number of women smoking in Pune has increased over the last few years due to reasons like stress, peer pressure and a sense of being &losquo;liberated’.
According to a recent survey conducted by Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, out of every 1,000 women in India, 150 are smokers. The study revealed that women from the BPO, media sectors and top MNCs in the country smoke. A contributing factor is the high disposable income these women earn.
Acceptance of women smokers in social circles and public places has contributed to most of them“coming out of the closet”. Till about three years ago, a woman smoking in public would raise eyebrows and alert the moral police.“Earlier, I used to smoke only in my room, but now that I see women smoking in the city quite openly and light up without feeling conscious about people judging me,” said Radhika MG ( 26), a software engineer.
The statistics are a major concern for doctors and health practitioners.“Smoking is on the rise in India. Women smokers are harming themselves and their children. Smoking causes problems like asthma, tuberculosis, cancers of the mouth, lungs, breast, stomach and cervix and reproductive complications like loss of fertility, miscarriages, stillbirth and low birth weights. The most saddening part is that despite knowing all this they are harming themselves, the environment and the people around,” said Dr CB Koppikar, oncologist and director of Prashanti Cancer Care Mission.
Other health problems prevalent in smokers as reported by specialists are cases of early menopause, reduced oestrogen levels and menstrual disorders.
Some do opt to kick the habit. According to Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre, a de–addiction centre in the city, about 56 women addicted to tobacco in various forms have enrolled in their rehabilitation programmes since January 2009. Most had other addictions like alcohol, tranquilisers and drugs.
But they could give it all up more easily with an 85% success rate as opposed to 65% conversion rate of their male counterparts. Some women also opt for counselling, nicotine patches and other means to quit smoking.
Tamanna Singh, 27, an HR executive had been smoking since the age of 16.“I couldn’t help but light a cigarette every fifteen minutes. Now, I hate the smell of tobacco and seeing people smoke irritates me. It is an expensive, unhealthy habit. Thanks to nicotine patches, I finally stubbed the habit last year.”