What is driving the habit of smoking in girls? Tobacco report reveals shocking numbers

Smoking not only increases the risk of respiratory diseases and lung cancer but also causes cardiovascular issues such as heart stroke.

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Top Indian News Desk
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Are girls consuming more tobacco than boys? Here’s what one of the recent studies reveals… According to one of the reports shared by the Union Health Ministry, while overall tobacco consumption has gone down across the country, smoking in girls has gone up by more than two-fold in girls. Disturbing here is that the percentage is rising among adolescents even as it’s going down among older women.

Raising numbers

Over the past ten years, there has been a rise in adolescent smoking, with girls experiencing the largest increase, per the survey. Between 2009 and 2019, the percentage of girls who smoke increased by 3.8 percentage points, reaching 6.2%. In contrast, there was a 2.3 percentage point increase in smoking among boys. This occurs at a time when adult smoking rates have dropped, with men's rates falling by 2.2 percentage points and women's rates falling by 0.4 percentage points. Furthermore, the prevalence of smoking among girls (6.2 percent in 2019) was significantly higher than that of women (1.5 percent in 2017), indicating that the younger generation is becoming addicted to cigarettes.

Reason for increase and decrease in the gender gap

According to the report, one of the major reasons is that teenagers are maturing fast, like boys take cigarettes to get rid of their angst and appear cool. Some also look upon it as a way to kill hunger pangs.

As per one of the editors of the report and public health scientist, women have largely been an untapped demographic for tobacco companies. The images of smoking have become fashionable and sign of women empowerment. Adding to it another factor is films and television. Though almost every film shows the warning in any such scene, but most of the OTT platforms are uploading the content without any warning. 

Teenagers are starting to close the gender gap. In 2019, 7.4% of girls and 9.4% of boys reported using tobacco products. Experts believe that if initiatives to get the youth to quit are not made, the country may have more smokers in the future. For this reason, the report includes a 2040 vision paper that argues that tobacco advertising and promotion should not be exposed to people born after 2022 that new tobacco products should be outlawed, and that plain packaging should once again be used.

Health hazards

Smoking not only increases the risk of respiratory diseases and lung cancer but also causes cardiovascular issues such as heart stroke. It also impacts fertility in both men and women, with an addition risk of having smaller fetuses, premature birth of babies with lung defects in women. There are several other long-lasting impacts too.