Scientists warn that women who smoke have a 25 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease than men.
A study of 2.4 million people published in the Lancet, the world's leading general medical journal, says the risk takes into account the fact that women tend to get through fewer cigarettes than men.
The latest review looked at 75 sets of data — produced by studies between 1966 and 2010 — including 67,000 coronary heart disease events like heart attacks.
Dr. Alex Butera, the acting CEO of King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, said there are even more risks.
“In addition to heart diseases, it increases risks for chronic obstructive airway disease, stroke, cataracts, sudden death, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis,” Dr Butera said.
“Heart diseases have affected women more because of the physiological differences between sexes.”
He noted that tobacco use is “the leading preventable cause of death” in most developed countries.
Dr. Butera further cautioned against smoking during pregnancy saying that it increases the risk of complications including premature birth, respiratory illnesses, and low birth weight.
Dr. Nathan Ruhamya, a cardiologist, said: “The risk is worse for cardiac disease if the lady has diabetes or is on contraceptives".
Heart disease is the world's biggest killer as it affects more than seven million people yearly.
Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo, the Deputy-Speaker of Chamber of Deputies, said that the pending anti-smoking bill, still in Parliament may offer a life-line.
“It is a bill that I wish could be passed quickly because tobacco related diseases kill people. It will set clear guidelines on many issues, especially the matter of smoking in public places like hotels and others”.
The bill is scheduled to be tabled again in the September extraordinary session, where it is likely to be passed.
Meanwhile, researchers from The Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island,USA, found that weightlifting can do more than just build muscle – it can also help smokers kick the habit.
A team from the hospital found that men and women are twice as likely to quit smoking if they do regular resistance training.
This builds on previous studies that found aerobic exercise to reduce the craving for cigarettes.