Rise Of Female Smokers In Kolkata And How Difficult It Is For Them To Quit Smoking

Smoking is no more considered to be done as a fashion statement; in fact, it is now attributed towards being a stress buster. This trend is especially seen in women and adolescents due to the competitiveness at the workplace/education institutions handling house along with work etc. Some, even believe in the myths that, smoking is a remedy for weight loss, which is believed by many young females.

Some reports even showed that women smoked more cigarettes than men, while 19.6* percent women in the age group of 15-19 smoked more than five cigarettes/bidis, and only 15.7 percent men in the same age smoked the buds.

When it comes to people in India, it has been found that Kolkata has the highest number of smokers, as a national survey found seen that 49** percent of the sample surveyed in the city inhaled injurious tobacco smoke as compared to 43 percent nationally. Dr. Sivaresmi Unnithan Consultant Pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata

Commenting on the trend and tobacco addiction, Dr. Sivaresmi Unnithan, Consultant Pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital, Anandapur, Kolkata said, “Over the last 4-5 years we have seen that the young generation is getting more addicted to smoking mostly because of stress. This stress is related to both their professional and personal life. Women have taken up smoking because they want to keep up with their male counterparts in their specific professions. They feel left out when the men in the workplace go out for frequent ‘smoke breaks’ with their colleagues and seniors. This can often backfire as women become addicted to smoking, making the process of deaddiction very difficult.”

Some medical experts claim that they have seen the trend of women smoking not only in the metropolitan cities but also in villages, where bidi smoking is more popular among females. Also, this is prevalent not only in the rural areas of West Bengal but also in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Northeast, Sikkim, Odisha.

However, it was seen that more women as compared to men, in West Bengal tried to stop smoking or using tobacco***. In fact, around 26.9 per cent women tried to abstain from smoking, against, 22.8 per cent men.

But, when it comes to quitting smoking, it is difficult for women to do so, as compared to the other gender. A study done by University of Burgundy suggested that women find it more and to quit****. The possible contributors were higher prevalence of anxiety, depression, and obesity among women.

Dr. Sanjay Garg, xx, Fortis Hospital, said, “The first and most important step is to identify and quantify an individual’s smoking and its effect in terms of social, occupational, and financial burden. Treatment for anti-smoking involves two major components including behaviour therapy and medications. Adopting alternative means of coping with stress, restructuring priorities, involving in extracurricular activities, will help in reduce the habit of smoking. Medications including nicotine replacement therapy in the form of chewing gums and transdermal patches can also help. Other medications may also be used to help cope with stress or other physical health issues.”

Hence, its crucial to educate women and even men about the harmful effects of smoking not only on their body but also on their mood, especially when it begin at an early age. Educational institutions and even offices should have sessions around the topic and even healthy ways of dealing with stress should also be taught.




* National Family Health Survey -5 (2019-21)


*** National Family Health Survey -5 (2019-21)



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