Research Highlight

Abused women use more tobacco

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2007.35 Published online 20 December 2007

Based on data from a large population survey in India, a new study has found an association between domestic violence and adult smoking1.

The researchers used data from the National Family Health Survey. The samples included 89,092 women and 278,977 family members aged 15 and older.

They found that for women who had ever been married, 19% reported incidents of abuse; 85% of abused women reported abuse by their husbands. Women who reported past and current abuse had 20%–40% increased odds of tobacco use compared with women reporting no abuse. Smoking risk was found to increase for any adult in households where domestic violence was prevalent, regardless of whether they were personally a victim, a perpetrator or neither.

While the harmful effects of tobacco use are well-documented, there has been little research on the stressors associated with tobacco use among Indians. One of those stressors, or risk factors, is domestic violence, a serious problem in India. Some 40% of Indian women report being slapped, kicked, hit or beaten during their marriages.

According to estimates, smoking and chewing tobacco contribute to some 800,000 deaths in India every year. The smoking rate for Indian men is around 29%, for women, approximately 3%. The rate of tobacco chewing is around 29% for men, 12% for women. Although rates of tobacco use are low among women, early indications are that these levels are on the rise. The researchers contend that Indians who smoke or chew tobacco cite stress relief as one of the reasons they begin using and continue to use tobacco.


  1. Ackerson, L. A. et al. Exposure to domestic violence associated with adult smoking in India: a population-based study. Tobacco Control 12, 378-383 (2007). | Article |