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Insight of the Day: Smoking goes up two-fold among teen girls, says tobacco report: What’s driving the habit?

Key Points:

  • Rising Trend: Smoking rates are increasing among teenage girls in India, while decreasing among adults.

  • Causes:

  • Teenage angst and desire to appear cool.

  • Peer pressure.

  • Targeted marketing by tobacco companies portraying smoking as fashionable and empowering.

  • Depiction of smoking in films and TV, particularly on OTT platforms.

  • Misconception that e-cigarettes are safe.

  • Health Risks:

  • Increased risk of respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and cardiovascular issues.

  • Negative impact on fertility and pregnancy outcomes.

  • Increased risk of early menopause and specific types of heart attacks in women under 50.

  • Higher risk of mortality from breast cancer.

  • Closing Gender Gap: The gap in tobacco use between adolescent boys and girls is narrowing, raising concerns about future smoking rates.

  • Proposed Interventions: The report suggests measures to protect those born after 2022 from tobacco exposure, ban new tobacco products, and reinstate plain packaging.

Additional Insights:

  • Untapped Demographic: Women have traditionally been less targeted by tobacco companies, making young girls a prime target for their marketing efforts.

  • OTT Platforms: The lack of regulation on OTT platforms has contributed to increased onscreen smoking, potentially influencing young viewers.

  • E-cigarettes: The misconception that e-cigarettes are safe is a contributing factor to their growing popularity, especially among youth.

  • 2040 Vision Document: The report's vision document emphasizes the need for comprehensive tobacco control measures to protect future generations from the harms of tobacco.

Overall, the report highlights a worrying trend of increased smoking among teenage girls in India and calls for urgent action to address the underlying causes and implement effective interventions to protect the health of young people.

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