KOCHI: The widespread use of tobacco products is wreaking havoc on the health of migrant labourers who work in the state’s construction sector, says a study conducted to assess tobacco-induced health problems among them. The first-of-its-kind study in the state showed tobacco use among 90.25 per cent of the migrants - an indispensable arm of the state’s workforce - has led to a host of oral diseases. In what could further accentuate the cancer burden of the state, around 42.27 per cent labourers covered under the study reported pre-cancerous oral mucosal lesions. The study had covered 2,163 (1,982 male and 181 female) construction workers in the age group of 14 to 55.
Of the total tobacco users, 84.74 per cent were men and 5.51 per cent women, according to the study published in the recent edition of the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice.
The study was conducted in five municipalities of Kothamangalam, Muvattupuzha, Perumbavoor, Angamaly and Aluva by the Kannur Dental College and the Departments of Public Health Dentistry, St Gregorios Dental College near here.
More than half (52.3 per cent) used a smokeless form of tobacco, including substances such as pan masala, that are banned in the state. Among the smokers, 15.93 per cent used cigarette and 12.76 per cent used bidis. More than a quarter (28.64 per cent) of the migrants covered in the study used both smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco. Dr Anzil K S Ali, senior lecturer, St Gregorios and the first author of the study said, “Inter-state migrant workers who play a major role in our construction sector are victims of occupations involving hard labour, poverty and low literacy coupled with ignorance. Our study has found youngsters in the age group of 25-34 with a penchant for khaini chewing,” he said. Anzil also appealed for the strict enforcement of the ban on smokeless tobacco products in the state.