GUWAHATI: With about 50 % of the state’s adult population using tobacco, the state has witnessed an alarming 9% rise tobacco consumption since the last survey carried out in 2009-10.
The recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS2) released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) shows 62.9% among men and 32.9% of women and 48.2% of all adults in Assam either consume smoke tobacco and /or used smokeless tobacco.
The state has shown a significant rise in tobacco consumption from 39.3% in the last survey held in 2009-10 to 48.2% in the recent survey. However, an overall reduction in tobacco consumption at national level has been noted in the survey.
In Assam, 25.3% of men, 0.8% of women and 13.3% of all adults currently smoke tobacco. 50.5% of men and 32.5% of women and 41.7% of all adults currently used smokeless tobacco. Khaini and Betel quid with tobacco are the most commonly used tobacco products. 23.1% of the adults used khaini and 19.0% used betel quid with tobacco. The mean age at initiation of tobacco use has increased from 18.1 years in GATS1 to 18.5 years in GATS2.
Consumer VOICE, New Delhi along with Consumers Legal Protection Forum, Assam initiated several tobacco related intervention programmes in Assam focussed primarily on youth and children, to sensitize different stakeholders and spreading awareness towards reducing the consumption of tobacco.
“The rise in number of tobacco users especially smokeless is a cause of worry because it is easily accessible to children and youth. We are working in the state through our programmes to protect the public, especially youth and children from exposure to tobacco use.” says Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer VOICE.
Tobacco use is the leading single preventable cause of deaths worldwide. Each year an estimated seven million deaths are attributed to the use of tobacco. India is the third largest tobacco producing nation and second largest consumer of tobacco world-wide. Mortality due to tobacco in India is estimated at upwards of 1.3 million.
In India every third adult in rural areas and every fifth adult in urban areas uses tobacco in some form or the other, the survey revealed that 28.6% of adults—aged 15 and above— in India currently use tobacco in some form. Among the adults 24.9% are daily tobacco users and 3.7% are occasional users.
From GATS1 to GATS2, the prevalence of smoking in Assam has decreased by 1.1 percentage points; however the decrease is not significant. It is noteworthy to mention that the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use has increased significantly by 9.0 percentage points.
“The ascent in tobacco consumption in Assam is an indicator that government needs to strengthen tobacco control efforts and people need more awareness on the health and financial burden that tobacco use brings with it.” says Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary of Consumer Legal Protection Forum. “We will continue our efforts to protect people from the hazards of tobacco use” added Advocate Hazarika.