Hyderabad: Casual and social smoking is on a rise among young working women across metros in India with many of them considering it to be a "stress buster", says a survey.

This is a "disturbing trend" and women must realise that by smoking cigarettes they are posing a danger to their heart's health, said an official of the ASSOCHAM, whose Social Development Foundation conducted the survey. The survey was conducted in the past four weeks to ascertain the smoking behaviour/pattern in young working women, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a statement.

The industry body's social development arm analysed about 2,000 women in the age group of 22 to 30 in 10 urban centres - Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune, it said. "A growing number of young working women (mostly with high paying jobs and an active life) are indulging in social smoking. But, they must realise it is 'uncool' and they are placing their heart health at risk by occasionally indulging in cigarettes, ASSOCHAM secretary general D S Rawat said.

"More and more number of young women can be seen all around commercial hubs in metros enjoying a smoke comfortably with their colleagues, this is certainly a disturbing trend," he said. Only two per cent of the total women surveyed said they were 'heavy smokers' (smoking a pack a day or more), and a majority of them blamed peer pressure and work-related stress for an increase in the number of cigarettes they smoked.

Some even said they smoked for weight loss, according to the survey. Of the total, about 40 per cent women identified themselves as 'very light smokers', with a habit of smoking one to two cigarettes either daily or occasionally. However, many of them said they mostly smoked when they took alcoholic drinks and that too, socially. About 12 per cent said they were 'light smokers' (smoking two to three cigarettes a day). Some of them women revealed they smoked casually, perceiving it to be 'cool' factor, and said it gave them a feeling of attractiveness, independence and sophistication.

PTI