Last time we checked, some of the leading effects of smoking were breathing issues, lung cancer, and immunity-related problems. But a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) believes increasing divorce rate in the country could also be blamed on smoking, provided smokers are women.
Member National Assembly (MNA) Dr Nausheen Hamid has told a seminar in Islamabad that smoking in women was a leading cause of increasing divorce rates in the country.
"Women smokers who get married end up divorced because they are not accepted by their in-laws," Dr Nausheen said at a session on the use of tobacco in Islamabad on Tuesday.
She revealed that in the last few years, the number of women smokers has dramatically escalated. "This leads to a number of social problems for both the smokers and their families. I personally know such women," she said.
The federal parliamentary secretary for health pointed out that out of every five people who smoke, two are women.
Recent media reports suggest that divorce rate is increasing in major urban centers. However, the majority of divorce cases are initiated by women demanding khula or dissolution of marriage.
In Pakistan, smoking reportedly causes 11% of the total deaths due to increased availability of cigarettes at lower prices.
According to a 2013 study by the Chicago Institute for Health Research at University of Illinois, over 22 million (19%) Pakistani adults aged 18 or above use some form of tobacco.
The study citing experts says that “cigarette prices in Pakistan are among the lowest in the world.”
Cigarette excise taxes in Pakistan account for just over half of the price paid by users. “This is below the level in countries that have taken a comprehensive approach to reduce tobacco use, where excise taxes account for 70% or more of the retail price,” the study said.
While smoking is undoubtedly injurious to health, it is always women who have to incur its social cost.
For men, smoking was associated with machoism as reflected by TV commercials until a few decades ago.