The number of males using tobacco in Rwanda is on the decline while that of women is increasing, Rwanda Demographic Survey (RDHS) shows.
However, experts in health say that even though there are no current statistics, they believe that the number of men has reduced while that of women increased.
Prof Stephen Rurisa, Dean of School of Medicine and Pharmacy at the University of Rwanda, and a specialist in Obstetrics & Gynaecology told Rwanda Today that there is an increasing numbers of women smokers and it is visible with shocking impacts on reproductive health.
He said women smokers were once considered deviant and most smoked in hiding, but today it has become a habit to find women in bars, hotels, and on streets smoking Lately, trends have changed, courtesy of women’s empowerment through education, globalisation and media exposure, which have fueled cultural dynamics that portray women smokers as stylish.
He said that the rise in smoking among women in the country has been attributed to not just social factors and women’s increasing economic resources, but also the tobacco industry’s strategic marketing of cigarettes and tobacco-related products to women as a symbol of emancipation.
A new World Health Organisation report for the first time demonstrates that the number of males using tobacco is on the decline globally but inform low-income countries on the rising number of women smokers.
The report further shows that tobacco is currently associated with five million deaths worldwide and, according to estimates, will probably kill eight million people a year between now and 2030 and one billion over the 21st century.
It is estimated that about 6 million people die from tobacco use every year, a figure that is predicted to grow to more than 8 million a year by 2030 without intensified action.
“In Rwanda, women have continued to experience grave effects, for instance, increased risks of miscarriage, stillbirth and sudden infant death