Self-reported use of tobacco products in nine rural INDEPTH Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in Asia

Type Journal Article - Global Health Action
Title Self-reported use of tobacco products in nine rural INDEPTH Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems in Asia
Volume 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Background: Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of premature death and disability. Even though tobacco use is common in many Asian countries, reliable and comparable data on the burden imposed by tobacco use in this region are sparse, and surveillance systems to track trends are in their infancy.

Objective: To assess and compare the prevalence of tobacco use and its associated factors in nine selected rural sites in five Asian countries.

Methods: Tobacco use among 9,208 men and 9,221 women aged 25–64 years in nine Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) sites in five Asian countries of the INDEPTH Network were examined in 2005 as part of a broader survey of the major chronic non-communicable disease risk factors. All sites used a standardised protocol based on the WHO STEPS approach to risk factor surveillance; expanded questions of local relevance, including chewing tobacco, were also included. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess demographic factors associated with tobacco use.

Results: Tobacco use, whether smoked or chewed, was common across all sites with some notable variations. More than 50% of men smoked daily; this applied to almost all age groups. Few women smoked daily in any of the sites. However, women were more likely to chew tobacco than men in all sites except Vadu in India. Tobacco use in men began in late adolescence in most of the sites and the number of cigarettes smoked daily ranged from three to 15. Use of both forms of tobacco, smoked and chewed, was associated with age, gender and education. Men were more likely to smoke compared to women, smoking increased with age in the four sites in Bangladesh but not in other sites and with low level of education in all the sites.

Conclusion: The prevalence of tobacco use, regardless of the type of tobacco, was high among men in all of these rural populations with tobacco use started during adolescence in all HDSS sites. Innovative communication strategies for behaviour change targeting adolescents in schools and adult men and women at work or at home, may create a mass awareness about adverse health consequences of tobacco smoking or chewing tobacco. Such efforts, to be effective, however, need to be supported by strong legislation and leadership. Only four of the five countries involved in this multi-site study have ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and even where it has been ratified, implementation is uneven.

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