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Survey says 50% Adults In Assam Use Tobacco; The State witnesses Alarming 9 % Increase

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According to a new survey, it is come to know that nearly 50 percent of all adults in Assam use Tobacco. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS2) report released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has come to the conclusion that around 48.2 percent of all adults in Assam consume smoke tobacco or use smokeless tobacco.

Out of these 48.2 percent 62.9 percent are men and 32.9 percent women, the report said.  Assam has confirmed a shocking 9% rise in tobacco consumption since the last survey conducted in 2009-10. Notwithstanding, the survey said that overall consumption of tobacco at the national level has come down.

Other findings of the survey found that 13.3 percent of all adults in Assam right now smoke tobacco and 41.7 per cent of the adults use smokeless tobacco.

As stated by the survey Noting ‘khaini’ (chewing tobacco with lime) and betel quid with tobacco are the most widely used tobacco products in Assam.  Around 23.1 percent of the adults use khaini and 19.0 percent use betel quid with tobacco in the state.

By comparing the previous report it was found that the mean age at initiation of tobacco use has extended rom 18.1 years in GATS1 to 18.5 years in GATS2.

A noted NGO , Consumer Legal Protection Forum, (CLPF) has expressed serious concern over this issue. The NGO initiated and organized several tobacco-related intervention programmes in the state, today said the state has shown a dramatic and worrisome rise in tobacco consumption from 39.3 percent during the last survey in 2009-10 to 48.2 percent now.

Conveying worry over the issue Ashim Sanyal, Chief Operating Officer, of Delhi based Consumer VOICE said, “The rise in a 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.”

The secretary of the CLPF Ajay Hazarika opined that the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use has increased significantly by 9 percentage points. He asserted that 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. He said, “We will continue our efforts to protect people from the hazards of tobacco use”.

Tobacco use today act as the leading single preventable cause of deaths worldwide. According to an estimate, Each year seven million deaths are happened due to the use of tobacco.  India, unfortunately, is the third largest tobacco producer in the world and second largest consumer of tobacco worldwide. Death rate because of tobacco consumption in India is estimated at upwards of 1.3 million.

From GATS1 to GATS2, the prevalence of smoking in Assam has reduced by 1.1 percentage points; although this decrease doesn’t affect much. Another important data said that the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use has increased significantly by 9.0 percentage points.

Earlier another survey said that nearly 1.05 crore people or 48.2 per cent of the population above 15 in Assam use tobacco products with 34,000 people dying of tobacco-related diseases.