Tobacco use down, but docs still wary

Fewer people are using tobacco in Karnataka compared with almost a decade ago.

If 28.2% adults were consuming tobacco (smoking and smokeless) in 2009-10, the figure dropped to 22.8% in 2016-17.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS), 16.8% of men and 0.7% of women (8.8% of all adults) smoked tobacco in Karnataka in 2016-17, while 22.2% of men and 10.3% of women (16.3% of all adults) used smokeless tobacco. The findings were released last January.

The GATS monitors the use of tobacco (smoking and smokeless) among adults.

But Dr Athira Ramakrishnan, consultant ENT surgeon, Fortis Hospitals, said the decline did not mean the risk had reduced.

According to her, oral cancer caused by tobacco products was prevalent among those aged 60 and above, while hospitals now receive cases of oral cancer among people aged just 30.

The survey also showed that betel quid with tobacco, beedi and gutka are the three most commonly used tobacco products in the state. At least 9.4% of adults use betel quid with tobacco, while 5.9% each smokes beedi and uses gutka.

“Non-smoking tobacco such as betel quid is used by men and women engaged in hard labour. They usually get a high that helps them continue their work,” Dr Athira said. She said that many younger women were coming to her for treatment for oral cancer.

Tobacco control

In a circular in September 2017, the health ministry asked states to authorise shops selling tobacco products. It also stipulated that shops selling tobacco products must not be allowed to sell non-tobacco items.

Vishal Rao, head and neck surgeon, who is also a member of the Consortium for Tobacco-Free Karnataka, said, “Karnataka hasnt taken any steps to monitor unlicensed shops selling tobacco products.”

According to Rao, around 15% of minors in Karnataka are exposed to tobacco products, while the law enforcement remains poor. He suggested that vendors selling tobacco be mandated to obtain a licence from the local authority.

Lokesh M N, chief health officer, BBMP, said the circular hadnt come to the notice of his department.

Fewer people are using tobacco in Karnataka compared with almost a decade ago.

If 28.2% adults were consuming tobacco (smoking and smokeless) in 2009-10, the figure dropped to 22.8% in 2016-17.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2 (GATS), 16.8% of men and 0.7% of women (8.8% of all adults) smoked tobacco in Karnataka in 2016-17, while 22.2% of men and 10.3% of women (16.3% of all adults) used smokeless tobacco. The findings were released last January.

The GATS monitors the use of tobacco (smoking and smokeless) among adults.

But Dr Athira Ramakrishnan, consultant ENT surgeon, Fortis Hospitals, said the decline did not mean the risk had reduced.

According to her, oral cancer caused by tobacco products was prevalent among those aged 60 and above, while hospitals now receive cases of oral cancer among people aged just 30.

The survey also showed that betel quid with tobacco, beedi and gutka are the three most commonly used tobacco products in the state. At least 9.4% of adults use betel quid with tobacco, while 5.9% each smokes beedi and uses gutka.

“Non-smoking tobacco such as betel quid is used by men and women engaged in hard labour. They usually get a high that helps them continue their work,” Dr Athira said. She said that many younger women were coming to her for treatment for oral cancer.

Tobacco control

In a circular in September 2017, the health ministry asked states to authorise shops selling tobacco products. It also stipulated that shops selling tobacco products must not be allowed to sell non-tobacco items.

Vishal Rao, head and neck surgeon, who is also a member of the Consortium for Tobacco-Free Karnataka, said, “Karnataka hasn’t taken any steps to monitor unlicensed shops selling tobacco products.”

According to Rao, around 15% of minors in Karnataka are exposed to tobacco products, while the law enforcement remains poor. He suggested that vendors selling tobacco be mandated to obtain a licence from the local authority.

Lokesh M N, chief health officer, BBMP, said the circular hadn’t come to the notice of his department.

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