Tobacco use on the rise among rural women: report

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An analysis of tobacco consumption in seven states and union territories, including Karnataka, found increased use among women in rural areas, raising concerns that children are conditioned from an early age to start smoking. to smoke.

In a report by Delhi-based think tank AF Development Center (AFDC), researchers note that, based on the latest NFHS-5 data (2019-2020), tobacco use among women in rural areas of India went from 13.67% in NFHS-4 to 17.83 percent in NFHS-5.

While the report focuses on Karnataka, Assam, Gujarat, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, data shows the increase is widespread in all states except from Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

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Sachi Satapathy, senior researcher and director of AFDC, pointed out that the prevalence of smoking was highest in Odisha and Karnataka at 62.50 percent and 63.68 percent, respectively. “Cigarette consumption is mainly limited to cities. But in rural areas, the prevalence of bidi smoking is highest in Karnataka at 35.32 percent, ”he added.

Among smokeless tobacco, consumption of gutka was highest in Gujarat (69.16%) and lowest in Uttar Pradesh (24.25%). Consumption of chewing tobacco was highest in Assam (30.07%), followed by Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir (28%).

Tobacco use in rural and urban areas is determined by different factors, explained Associate Professor R Sarala of the International Research Institute in Health Management (IIHMR), Bengaluru, who co-authored the study.

“In urban areas, smoking among girls attending university is on the rise, driven by peer pressure and among the middle class and the IT crowd, by a combination of fear and stress. However, in rural areas, while bidis are consumed by men, smokeless tobacco use is predominant among women because it is not taboo. This is problematic because it has the same end result on health, ”said Dr Sarala.

Effects on children

It also has side effects on children. The study found that 18% of women tend to send their children to buy tobacco products, compared to 5% of men. This leads to smoking initiation in children at an early stage, the researchers warned.

“It also shows that the laws are not followed by store owners because they are not allowed to sell tobacco products to those under the age of 18,” they noted.

The low taxation of bidis and smokeless tobacco is also driving consumption, Dr Sarala added.

“If current trends continue, a large part of India’s population will die prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses,” Satapathy said.

“India’s compliance with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been inconsistent. Many states are reporting loopholes in the law, along with pathetic regulatory oversight and global defiance, as this research shows. We need to rethink our work on tobacco control, including taxation and drafting legislation, as implementation on the ground is weak, as this study shows. “


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