The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) said smoking is eight times more prevalent among Indian men than women. However, an Indian woman smoker puffs more cigarettes a day on an average.

The average figure for the Indian women smokers is 7 a day. Her male counterpart burns 6.1 sticks, the GATS data suggested.

Edelweiss analysts said cigarette companies would increasingly target women as only 3 per cent of women tobacco users smoke daily. It said that high potential among women and chances of switch over from non-cigarettes to cigarette category might aid a leading cigarette manufacturer.

As per data from the GATS, tobacco usage among women is on the rise, doubling from 10 per cent to 20 per cent. “With just 3 per cent of women tobacco users smoking cigarettes daily, this provides a high potential for new cigarette consumers. An average Indian woman takes up smoking at an age of 17.5 years against 18.8 years for men”, said analysts Abneesh Roy, Hemang Gandhi and Pooja Lath of Edelweiss.

According to Gary Giovino, a researcher at the University of Buffalo and lead author of the WHO-backed study, there are indications that the tobacco industry is taking more aggressive marketing measures. They are increasingly spending more money to convince women around the world that smoking will help them look more attractive. The study also found that tobacco appeared most addictive to Chinese, Indians and Russians, who had the lowest quitting rates. Indian smokers have a low quit ratio (less than 20 per cent), which is way below countries like UK, US, Brazil and Uruguay (35 per cent).

GATS India provides information on both, tobacco smoking and use of smokeless tobacco along with varied dimensions of tobacco use including use of different tobacco products, frequency of use, age at the time of initiation and the like. Additionally the report throws light on the other aspects of tobacco use like, exposure to second-hand smoke; cessation; the economies of tobacco; exposure to media messages on tobacco use; and knowledge of health impact of tobacco use.

jayanta.mallick@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 20, 2012)
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