Most women living in urban slums in Pakistan are aware that smoking harms women’s and children’s health, however, a new study reports that few of these women knew about specific smoking-related health effects.

Around one-third of women in the study knew that smoking can cause lung disease, but only seven percent knew that smoking could lead to heart disease. Few knew that smoking could lead to female-related health effects such as: low birth weight (seven percent); congenital abnormalities (five percent); pregnancy loss, still birth and preterm labor (less than one percent); and infertility and osteoporosis (zero percent). Only 20 percent understood the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on their children.

The study also found that the women’s limited health knowledge was largely due to illiteracy and lower levels of education.

“Understanding and attitudes needs to be improved by increasing health awareness and education of women in these urban communities with special emphasis on the effects of smoking on women’s health,” the study concluded.

1. Bhanji S, Andrades M, Taj F, Khuwaja AK. Factors related to knowledge and perception of women about smoking: a cross sectional study from a developing country. BMC Women’s Health 2011; 11: 16 (open access)