Smoking and the new female freedeom

Ntombini Semella

MASERU – Nowadays smoking is increasingly becoming a way of life for young girls and gradutating adolescents. Unlike in the past where it used to be taboo for females to smoke or be seen piping, smoking is fast becong the new normal as a form of past time entertainment. This is despite the tremendous campaigns made on tobacco control.

The sound of match being struck and that sudden flare of lighting a cigarette and different poses that women take while smoking really does draw attention.While the sexy poses may attract men, that’s hardly not the case most women and young girls smoke. Women’s smoking prevalence rates that are currently increasing than those os men are characteristic symbols that shows women’s independence.

It’s actually the current style for women in this rather ‘new’ generation. Media has also increased the impact of smoking women through popular movies and tv shows and made cultural backgrounds which made smoking women be seen as taboo seems less entrapping. Women in Africa became familiar and adapted the modern styles of smoking seen on televisons.

By smoking, women aged 20-34 are making better living or more complete expression of their independence. The tobacco’s industry’s marketing of cigarettes to women is a symbol of liberation and its about being honest with ‘your feelings’ as a woman. Most women or girls have embarked on cigarette smoking which has basically given them the freedom from the stereotyped mind-sets of cultural captivity which sought for many year to define them as humble and ‘less men’.

This was against the background that only men could smoke and only men are ‘smokers’. As much as smoking is alleged to relieve stress, depression, dealing with anger and frustration, it unfortunately easily becomes an addiction. To the propagation of such diseases as cancer and heart disease smoking has become an implicit “cool” factor that is often ignored or less likely to be condemned Speaking to Public Eye, 22 year old Mpho Moremoholo said for her smoking is a result of peer pressure.

“I started smoking because of peer pressure. I wanted to be “cool” with my peers. By age 18, I had became a pro. I learnt that different smokers do it for difeerent reasons, for myself I am yet to know mine. If you ask me now I wont be able to tell you, I just do it. I cannot honestly go my whole day without a single smoke. It’s light lighting a torch to freedom. I just love cigaretes,” Moremoholo said.

“I stopped sometime and when I went to the National University of Lesotho I started again. We had a place called Piers where me and my friends had a spot. This is where ‘the coolest kids’ would hang out in the smoking zone called Libateng. The cool kids would smoke weed, hubbly and other sorts of drugs. “I would feel the habit intensifying as if it’s part of the routine,”said Moremoholo.While she was a regular ‘chill girl’ at Piers, she says one day her parents found a box of cigarettes in her room. When confronted unexpectedly, she had to admit that it was true.

“When my mom asked me why I smoke, I had no reason why I was smoking,” she said adding that in the midst of all, her mother was a health educator hosting anti-smoking campaigns. She further adds that “I stopped smoking for two weeks after my parents had caught on me smoking cigarettes. My mother would tell me to eat fruits and sweets to alliviate the desire to smoke. That did not help. I often would go out with my friends then I would suddenly find myself with a cigarette on my palm. I then realised that I could not stop.

Moremoholo who says she actually sees smoking as a negative thing for her seeing it as something that negatively affects her closest family and friends. Moremoholo says she has never thought of quiting although she hopes that one day she would be disciplened enough to stop off the habit. “These days when the urge to smoke comes, it gets so intense my brain freezes,” she chuckles. *Lerato aged 30 says for her smoking cigarete at age 10.

Her story is different from most. She says there was a grown up party in her house where her smoking elders left a full box of cigaretes. She had found it asd was excited to try tech herself smoking. For two weeks after school she would find a hide out an dteach herself smoking, she says. Lerato said “after that box I once found, I never smoked . I stopped until I was 15 years old then I sarted again.”

At the age of 17 she started doing it regularly when she joined some party and joined a smoking group. Today at 30, Lerato is a regular cigarete smoke who does four sticks a day. Some teens who have tried smoking, admit that parental habits towards smoking somehow influenced them into smoking.

12-year-olds whose parents smoked were more than two times as likely to begin smoking cigarettes on a daily basis between the ages of 13 and 21 than were children whose parents didn’t use tobacco, according to a new study that looked at family influences on smoking habits. The research indicated that parental behavior about smoking, not attitudes, is the key factor in delaying the onset of daily smoking, according to Karl Hill, director of the University of Washington’s Seattle Social Development Project.

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