A qualitative study exploring women´s journeys to becoming smokers in the social context of urban India
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Savitribai Phule Pune University, India
Boston University, School of Public Health, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A357
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In India, the prevalence of smoking among women is increasing, and the reasons behind this are unclear. We aimed to study the factors leading to initiation and maintenance of the smoking habit in women in Pune, India.

Twenty-seven urban women smokers, ranging from 21 to 60 years of age (31.96 ± 10.70 years), were interviewed between September 2015 and February 2016. The in-depth interviews consisted of questions on pre-decided categories, including initiation, motivation to continue smoking, and risk perception. They were asked to describe their first smoking experience, factors that trigger them to smoke and the benefits that they seek from smoking.

Thematic analysis revealed that peer pressure, curiosity, fascination, experimentation, and belonging to a group were factors that led to initiation, while lack of alternatives for stress relief, work environments, and lack of leisure time activities provided circumstances to continue smoking. Participants recognized a sense of liberation and independence from smoking cigarettes and perceived health risks as minor and distant.

Social factors, apart from peer influence, were important for initiation of smoking among this study's participants, while individual or personal factors, such as stress and habit, determined motivation to continue. Low awareness of health risks, perceived emotional benefits and misconceptions of being in control of the habit led to further addiction. These factors should be kept in mind when designing smoking prevention and cessation interventions.

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