Cigarette consumption in India falls as number of female smokers rise

Although cigarette consumption is on a low and falling steadily, the number of women smokers is rising, making it home to the second largest number of female smokers after the United States.  

Last Updated: Dec 28, 2015, 17:04 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Smoking has, since time immemorial, been considered a masculine practice. Any girl seen indulging in it, is thought of as unethical and looked down upon.

Call it societal pressure or simply an ingrained value in the mindset of the Indian population, this is the way it is.

Indian women today, however, have begun to prove this wrong. Breaking the record, Indian women have made it to the top of the “smoking” list.

Although cigarette consumption is on a low and falling steadily, the number of women smokers is rising, making it home to the second largest number of female smokers after the United States.

According to a report in Times of India, the latest data on cigarette consumption given by the health ministry in Parliament, the consumption in 2014-15 was 93.2 billion sticks — 10 billion less than in 2012-13. The production of cigarettes too fell from 117 billion to 105.3 billion sticks in the same period.

However, the good news has a downside which is that the global tobacco study showed a rise in female smokers, going up from 5.3 million in 1980 to 12.7 million in 2012.

As per the Times of India, this jump in numbers constitutes only a marginal increase in prevalence (percentage of smokers in the above 15 population) from 3% to 3.2%. But it has been flagged as an area of concern by anti-tobacco activists who point out that it runs against the global trend of the rate of decline among women smokers being consistently faster than in men.