GUWAHATI, Aug 26 - The recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS2), released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), shows 62.9 per cent among men, 32.9 per cent of women and 48.2 per cent of all adults in Assam either consume tobacco or smokeless tobacco.
The State has shown a significant rise in tobacco consumption from 39.3 per cent in the last survey held in 2009-10 to 48.2 per cent in the recent survey. However, an overall reduction in tobacco consumption at the national level has been noted in the survey.
In Assam, 25.3 per cent men, 0.8 per cent women and 13.3 per cent of all adults currently smoke tobacco. 50.5 per cent of men, 32.5 per cent of women and 41.7 per cent of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco. Khaini and betel quid with tobacco are the most commonly used tobacco products. 23.1 per cent of the adults use khaini and 19.0 per cent use 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 the Consumers Legal Protection Forum, Assam, initiated several tobacco-related intervention programmes in the State, focused primarily on youths and children, to sensitise different stakeholders and spreading awareness towards reducing the consumption of tobacco.
�The rise in the number of tobacco users, especially smokeless, is a cause of worry because it is easily accessible to children and youths. We are working in the State to protect the public, especially youth and children, from exposure to tobacco use,� said 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 the second largest consumer of tobacco worldwide. Mortality due to tobacco in the country is estimated at more than 1.3 million.
In India, every third adult in rural areas and every fifth adult in urban areas use tobacco in some forms or the other, the survey revealed, adding that 28.6 per cent of adults (aged 15 and above) in India currently use tobacco.
From GATS1 to GATS2, the prevalence of smoking in Assam has decreased by 1.1 per cent.
�The ascent in tobacco consumption in Assam is an indicator that the government needs to strengthen tobacco control efforts and the people need more awareness on the health and financial burden that tobacco use brings with it,� said Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary of the Consumer Legal Protection Forum.