अख़बार की दुनिया मे बेबाक़ी का सबसे बड़ा कलेजा

【 RNI-HIN/2013/51580 】
【 RNI-MPHIN/2009/31101 】



Jansamparklife.com







Let's settle scores: you still can't tolerate women smoking? Well, this is for you

16 Nov 2022

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From men on scooter slowing down past a girl smoking to long-drawn, threatening stares, to people even walking up to women with comments like “Ladkiyon ko cigarette nahi peena chahiye, suit nahi karta” (girls shouldn’t smoke, it does not suit them) or my personal favourite “Cigarette ko muh mein leti hai toh sab kuch leti hogi!” (if you put a cigarette in your mouth, you must put everything else also), urban spaces in India are a built to keep women from the choice to smoke.

A common classist and casteist worldview can conclude that men from low-income backgrounds are the perpetrators of such judgment, but that would be a fallacy. The comments, stares and headshakes of disapproval are brought on just as much by savarna, privileged men who deem themselves the guardians of Indian sanksaar. Not to mention other women reinforcing this patriarchal notion, clicking their tongues at such abhorrent behaviour as well.

Torches of freedom & commercial gain

The tone of this article’s narrative suggests that women should have the right to choose for their own bodies when it comes to smoking, but this narrative isn’t new. It has long been a tool for big tobacco businesses to widen their consumer bases.

In the 19th century, big tobacco companies focused their advertising on their consumer base of men. The social stigma around women smoking made their share in the consumer market negligible, and the habit was often attributed to sex workers or women who society considered ‘immoral’. However, George Washington Hill, the president of American Tobacco Company, saw women as an untapped market opportunity to maximise profit. In 1929, the company organised a parade of women marching down New York City’s Fifth Avenue holding lit cigarettes that were coined ‘torches of freedom’. This location wasn’t a random choice, and was remnant of the 1915 Suffrage Parade march where tens of thousands of women marched across Fifth Avenue for the right to vote. The similarity drawn between these two marches posed smoking as ‘liberation’ and ‘emancipation’ for women, and the tobacco market grew.

Big tobacco company Philip Morris also rode the wave of feminism to the bank in 1968 with its marketing slogan ‘You’ve come a long way, baby’ for Virginia Slims. This represent a long trend of ‘feminisation of cigarettes’ with product variants that were extra slim, low-tar, low-smell, menthol and so on. And this trend of big tobacco companies using women’s liberation as a marketing tagline isn’t a solely American phenomenon.

You’ve come a long way, baby’ for Virginia Slims

For decades, several Indian tobacco companies introduced women in cigarette advertisements in order to capture that same untapped market. Before the Act outlawing cigarette product advertising was implemented, in April of 2003 Golden Tobacco Company’s new line of Platinum cigarettes was launched specifically for women with an insert in the Mid Day titled ‘Understanding Women’. ITC Ltd, India’s leader in tobacco, identified women as a market and began to run print advertisements for Gold Flake Filter Kings which picturised a group of both men and women. Not to mention the famous Wills‘ ‘Made for Each Other’ campaign advertising Navy Cut cigarettes with the faces of a happy couple.

‘Made for Each Other’ for Wills

The trend of curbing a woman’s freedom exists across India in many colours and shapes, this is a fact. While the act of smoking itself is not a liberator or emancipator for women, despite what big tobacco would have us believe, the freedom of choice to smoke or not to smoke, is.


ताज़ा सुर्खियाँ खबरे छूट गयी होत


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