BHUBANESWAR: Though there has been a marginal reduction in prevalence of smokeless tobacco (SLT) use among women in the country, Odisha records the highest prevalence, at least four times the national average.A recent study conducted basing on the outcomes of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) I and II revealed that prevalence of SLT has increased from 35.49 per cent (per cent) to 56.53 per cent within seven years whereas the national prevalence reduced from 18.4 per cent to 12.76 per cent during the period.
While Himachal Pradesh had the lowest 0.14 per cent during the recent GATS II survey, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh continued to have the least prevalence of SLT in both the rounds. Even as the overall situation improved nationally, a substantial portion of the unemployed cohort (22.56 per cent) and self-employed (16.43 per cent) were under the influence of smokeless tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco refers to products which are consumed without combustion through chewing, spitting, dipping, snuffing and applying on teeth and gums. There are 248 million SLT users globally, 90 per cent of whom live in the Indian subcontinent. Tobacco consumption is more widespread among males but it is evident that young girls and women tend to use SLT more as compared to smoking. Socio-cultural practices and acceptability of SLT have been attributed as reasons for extensive use among females.
The study conducted by four researchers of the Public Health division of Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) claimed dual use of tobacco is potentially one of the highest risk factors for ill effects on general and reproductive health among women. Despite a noticeable surge in prevalence of SLT, the number of people willing to quit and attempting to quit have almost doubled during the period. “This can be treated as an opportunity for policy makers to take lead and help people in quitting. The number of users have considerably increased in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal,” said an author.
Although various interventions and policies have helped reduce the tobacco use, the author said, those do not focus on gender dimensions. The researchers have recommended gender-based tobacco control policies with a bottom-up approach having participation of women in order to make it culturally and socially acceptable.
Smokeless tobacco use increased from 35.49 per cent to 56.53 per cent in 7 years
National prevalence reduced from 18.4 per cent to 12.76 per cent during the period
Young girls and women tend to use SLT more as compared to smoking