The state of Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the highest spending state on tobacco products.
Increased use of tobacco puts children, women at greater risk of lung cancer: VHAI
“The state’s monthly spending on smoking tobacco as far outstrips the national monthly expenditure averages. While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in J-K spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20, respectively, on these tobacco forms,” the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, (GATS) Government of India reveals.
Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in J&K than elsewhere in the North.
Interestingly, the survey reveals that 26.6% population of in Jammu & Kashmir is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form. Out of these users 41.6% are males and 10.3% females. The average age at daily initiation of tobacco use are 17.3 years in adults, 17.5 years in males and 14.9 years in females.
“It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults in J&K (69.7%) are exposed to tobacco smoke at home, out of which 72.1% are men and 66.9% are women. 67.9% of adults are exposed to tobacco smoke at workplaces, out of which 70.6% are men, 61.4% are women and 35.2% of adults are exposed to tobacco smoke in public places, out of which 46.1% are men, 23% are women,” the survey reveals.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data, nearly 37% children in India initiate smoking before the age of 10 and each day, 5500 children begin tobacco use.
“The findings of these studies highlight the need for targeted interventions among youth in general and students in particular, especially given the marketing overdrive of the tobacco industry to promote the use of tobacco among youth,” said Seema Gupta, Director Programmes at the Voluntary Health Association of India, (VHAI).
Pertinently, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), Tobacco Control Act enacted in 2003 applicable to the entire country was mainly to discourage the consumption of tobacco products through progressive restrictions and to protect non-smokers from passive smoking.
The Tobacco Control Law prohibits smoking in public places, ban on the Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorship of all Tobacco Products and ban on the sale of tobacco to and by minors and prohibition on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions.
“Given such a scenario the government of Jammu and Kashmir has to come forward to protect the health of people by supporting COTPA enforcement. The state should set an example thereby banning smoking in public places, banning tobacco advertisements at point of sale and banning the sale of tobacco products near educational institutions. With all these measures, the Government can safeguard the health of the people especially the children and women across the state,” said Afzal Mukhdoomi, Consultant Tobacco control, VHAI.
He said that the highest spending on tobacco products by the people in JK will lead to higher incidence of lung cancer and other tobacco related diseases among the people.