More than 38 per cent population of Odisha is addicted to chewing tobacco. The habit is more prevalent in rural areas than urban pockets of the State, the Annual Health Survey (AHS, 2010-11) has revealed.
While in rural areas, over 40 pc of the population was found indulging in tobacco-chewing in any form from ‘paan’ to ‘gutkha’ to ‘khaini’ and ‘gundi’, in urban areas 25.6 pc found addicted.
As high as 45.5 pc of males in the State chew tobacco. The number of females is no less with not less than 30 pc addicted to chewing-tobacco.
The statistics could strengthen the Government’s resolve to fight the tobacco menace as it is planning to impose a total ban on manufacture, sale and storage of gutkha in the State on the lines of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
The survey results bring to the fore a disturbing feature of acutely high tobacco-chewing rate in backward and tribal- dominated districts of the State. Malkangiri accounts for highest tobacco- chewing rate with over 58.4 pc of its population indulging in the habit followed by Mayurbhanj with 51.3 pc and Nabarangpur 48.5 pc.
Over 60.9 pc of rural population in Malkangiri district is addicted, including 65.2 pc males and 56.7 pc on the distaff side.
In the urban areas, Bhadrak district tops the list with 43 pc of its population in towns having the habit of chewing tobacco. The break-up is 51.8 pc of males and 34.2 pc women.
Gajapati is the best faring district with only 13 pc of its population being addicted.
Smokers in the State account for 8 pc. Major chunk of the smoking public resides in rural areas at 8.6 pc compared to 5.5 pc of urban population. As many as 15.3 pc of males have taken to smoking while almost 1 pc of women was found addicted, the AHS has revealed.
Again, another predominantly tribal district Rayagada has the highest concentration with 16.1 pc of its population found smoking followed by Koraput at 14.2 pc and Nayagarh 12.8 pc.