GUWAHATI: Three North-eastern states — Assam, Tripura and Manipur — have logged an increase in tobacco use despite anti-tobacco laws and a ban enforced by militants. Countrywide, however, tobacco use has declined by six per cent — from 34.6 per cent to 28.6 per cent — between 2009-10 and 2016-17.
While its use has gone up from 39.3 per cent to 48.2 per cent in Assam, it has risen from 55.9 per cent to 64.5 per cent in Tripura, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2016-17, of the Northeast. In Manipur, it has increased marginally, from 54.1 per cent to 55.1 per cent.
The remaining states have recorded a decline. In Nagaland, the dip has been striking — from 31.5 per cent to 13.2 per cent. In Sikkim, tobacco use has dipped from 41.6 per cent to 17.9 per cent.
Alarmed by the ever-increasing number of cancer cases, Assam’s previous Congress government had in 2014 passed an anti-tobacco law — The Assam Health (Prohibition of Manufacturing, Advertisement, Trade, Storage, Distribution, Sale and Consumption of Zarda, Gutkha, Pan Masala, etc, containing Tobacco and Nicotine) Act. But it was struck down last month by Gauhati High Court as unconstitutional on petitions filed by some tobacco companies.
Besides, militants in Manipur had long ago banned smokeless tobacco products.
“Smoking prevalence in India has decreased from 14 per cent to 10.7 per cent. Except for (three states), all states in the Northeast have shown a decrease, with the most significant decline being recorded in Nagaland (from 31.5 per cent to 13.2 per cent) and Sikkim (26.4 per cent to 10.9 per cent),” the report said.
Chewing of smokeless tobacco (SLT) has gone down from 25.9 per cent to 21.4 per cent nationally. The most significant increase in SLT use was in Assam and Tripura. Sikkim recorded a sharp decline. Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland had a moderate decrease.
“The remarkable achievement has been in reduction in exposure to second-hand smoke at home, which is from 52.3 per cent to 38.7 per cent, and in any public place from 29 per cent to 23 per cent,” the report said.