Indian Femininity in the World of Smoke

Indian Femininity in the World of Smoke.

India being the biggest democracy of this World and home to various ethnicities and religions is one of the most vibrant mix of cultures, languages, cuisines which hosts people from all around all the planet. With the fastest growing economy, India is now also moving towards a new era of creative independence where an unconventional and a fierce call for Free Will is being expressed. The female population of our country is now unapologetically and fearlessly standing up for its own rights and are showcasing their vigour and zeal and talent in almost every field of interests.

Although, a coin has always two sides. The light is always accompanied with darkness and so it is with India, our Golden Bird too. India, while holding impressive rankings in various global indexes also holds ranks under various un-appreciative lists too.

According to the latest reports from CNBC, 9 out of 10 most polluted cities in the World are in India. It comes under one of the most densely populated countries of the world. India is the 3rd largest producer of tobacco and its products and following close is the consumption statistic of tobacco with India being the 2nd largest consumer of tobacco and has the 3rd highest number of female tobacco users in the world!

With India discouraging its populace to consume tobacco altogether, it has seen a substantial rise in the number of females who have started consuming tobacco through smoking particularly. Our country houses a staggering 11.9 million (approx 1.1 crore) female consumers of tobacco out which 5.4 million (approx 54 lakh) females consume it through smoking and the rest through chewing it.

So what is it that’s making these women to smoke? What is it that they take up such a dangerous and life-taking habit? There are many reasons to answer this predicament.

Firstly, girls, mainly between the age 19-22, start smoking because of peer-pressure. They notice and observe some of their peers smoking and the impressionable and naive minds owing to the age factor starts making logical and reasonable, to them atleast, ideologies about the habit and fall to its prey.

In the upcoming generation being among the ‘cool kids’ and following a trend is a rage. This ‘trend’ can range from ‘going to late-night parties’ to ‘one-night stands’ to ‘smoking.’

Secondly, owing to the cut-throat competition and the ever rising stress levels among the women to outperform the men and make a name for themselves more women are prone to

smoke a cigarette every time they feel a bit of blues or having any level of tension leading to its life-taking addiction.

Also in order to make an escape from their highly stressed schedules, smoking a cigarette offers them a 15 minute refuge from the reality which most of the women welcome with open arms or better yet, open lips!!

Thirdly, smoking dulls a one’s appetite greatly. This factor makes it for the obese and overweight women convenient and easy to follow their diet plan making them lose their weight. Many girls take to smoking because of this particular factor and when confronted they reason that they would rather die of lung cancer than some heart-attack linked with obesity!

Lastly, in rural India women take up smoking by default. Reason being they see their father smoking from a tender age and after marrying they have to set and light up their husbands hookah and eventually take up the habit themselves. As a result smoking is not big of a deal to women in rural India.

Also in villages and small towns and districts women do not have the luxury to adopt and pay for extra-curricular activities and a result they have a lot of empty time to themselves in which they deem it appropriate to pass it by smoking tobacco through hookah or beedi.

Owing to these various factors women between the age of 20-35 face the most dire of the consequences related to smoking which of them are –

Women are at a higher risk of developing cancer at this age.

Reproductive health gets in the way of harm due to the harmful effects of nicotine present in tobacco. The chemicals released in the body due to inhaled smoke harms the production of eggs in the ovaries in females leading to infertility.

Expectant mothers and their foetuses are even at higher risk posed by direct or passive smoking. Pre-natal smoking leads to certain disabilities in the unborn children some of which can range from stunted physical growth to congenital heart defects.

Twenty-five percent of the smoking populace die during their most productive years (i.e. 22-40 years) greatly affecting their families and the economy of the country as well.

Studies find that the female smoking population die eight years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts!

According to Sapna Nangia, oncologist at Apollo Hospital, there are mainly two reasons for the women to take up smoking –

Firstly, it is a carefully devised plan by tobacco industries who are facing a lot of lawsuits in the west for advertising their products. So instead of facing the difficulty of advertising their product there, they find it easier to encourage women in India and China to smoke under the pretext of making smoking a socially acceptable norm.

Secondly, under the increasing influence of western culture’s perception of personal freedom and independence women find no fault in thinking that smoking denotes independence in women.

Supporting the above facts, a study published in mid-2014 in the British Medical Journal which examined the prevalence of smoking in 187 countries including India between years 1980 and 2012. It was found that the rise in female smokers has risen up from 5.3 million (approx 53 lakh) to 12.2 million (1.2 crore).

To summarise women in India are increasingly finding solace in a habit which will either kill them or will prevent them from becoming mothers ever in the future. The government should put forward stringent laws and by-laws which prevent the producers of tobacco to keep increasing their trade in India and it is our duty as a responsible citizen to spread awareness about the deadly potential of tobacco products and their consequences and discourage smokers to leave the white stick of death forever.

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