Casual/social smoking on rise among young working women in urban India

Casual and social smoking is on rise amid young working women across metros in India, noted a recent survey conducted by ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation ahead of International Women’s Day.

The social development arm of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) analysed a sample of about 2,000 women between ages 22 and 30 years in 10 urban centres viz., Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune during the course of past four weeks.

The survey was conducted to ascertain the smoking behaviour/pattern in young working women, many of whom consider it as a ‘stress buster.’

“Growing number of young working women (mostly with high paying jobs and an active life) are indulging in social smoking but they must realise it is ‘uncool’ and that they are placing their heart health at risk by occasionally indulging in cigarettes,” said ASSOCHAM secretary general, Mr D.S. Rawat while releasing the findings of the survey.

“More and more number of young women can be seen all around commercial hubs in metros enjoying a smoke comfortably with their colleagues, this is certainly a disturbing trend,” said Mr Rawat.

Highlights of survey:

While of the total about only two per cent said they were heavy smokers (smoking a pack a day or more), majority of these said that peer pressure and work related stress pushed them to increase number of cigarettes they smoked. Some even said they smoked for weight loss.

Almost all of them belonged to top tier cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Of the total about 40 per cent identified themselves as very light smokers with a habit of smoking 1-2 cigarettes either daily or occasionally. Many of these however said they mostly smoked when drunk and that too socially. About 12 per cent said they were light smokers (2-3 cigarettes a day).

Some of them even said that they smoked casually owing to the ‘cool’ factor and even associated with feelings of attractiveness, independence and sophistication.

Of the remaining 46 per cent, about one-fourth said they had quit smoking. Many of these said they had started smoking while entering adulthood and during college life. On being asked the reason for why they quit smoking majority of them said it is owing to fear of ill effects of smoking on conceiving/fertility and high risk disorders like breast cancer.

While the rest of them said they had never smoked and many of these said they were averse to smoking. Most of these also said that horrifying warning pictures and graphics on cigarette cases explaining harmful effects of smoking worked as a smoking deterrent.