It also has the highest number of passive smokers region-wise at 58%

Jammu and Kashmir has the highest number of people who smoke, but less of those who use smokeless tobacco. The State also has the highest number of passive smokers.

This has been revealed in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted by the Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Science (IIPS) in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Releasing the survey findings at a one-day conference organised here, IIPS Professor S. Pursuraman said the use of tobacco, especially smokeless tobacco in the northern region, was lower than the national average. Nineteen per cent of adults in the northern region used tobacco compared to 35 per cent nationally. “The prevalence of smoking in the northern region is 14 per cent and that of smokeless tobacco is 8 per cent.” However, Jammu and Kashmir has the highest number of passive smokers in the region — 58 per cent.

Tobacco prevalence

But tobacco use is 27 per cent and tobacco prevalence is lower than the national average of 35 per cent, but much higher than the regional average of 19 per cent. “More than two in every five adult males and one in every five adult females in the State use tobacco,” said Prof. Pursuraman.

The Conference was inaugurated by Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma in the presence of a large number of experts from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh.

According to S.K. Singh, another professor at IIPS, the prevalence of smoking in Jammu and Kashmir is 22 per cent, which is higher than national average.

“Thirty-five per cent of adult males and 8 per cent of women in the State smoke tobacco,” he said adding that prevalence of smokeless tobacco in the State was 8 per cent — much lower than the national average of 26 per cent. “Eleven per cent of males and 4 per cent of women use smokeless tobacco,” he added.

They start early

GATS India survey shows that among young adults between 20 and 34 in the State, daily tobacco use starts on an average at the age of 17.2. “The mean age at initiation into smoking is almost the same at 17.3. Almost one half of daily smokers aged 20-40 start using tobacco daily before attaining the age of 18,” it says.

Prof. Pursuraman said pictorial warning on the cigarette packets had an impact and it led to decrease in smoking percentage. “However, only 14 per cent of daily smokers in the State could quit smoking successfully,” she said adding that most of the smokers do not want to kick the habit.

The survey reveals that 33 per cent of cigarette smokers thought of quitting smoking because of warning labels on the pack, however, not a single bidi smoker thought of quitting for the same purpose.

“This may be because there is no pictorial warning on bidi packs,” said Dr. Singh.

“Though 81 per cent of smokers in Jammu and Kashmir are aware that smoking causes lung cancer, only 58 per cent know that smoking can trigger a heart attack and only 44 per cent smokers know that smoking can cause a stroke,” says the survey.

Keywords: smokingJ&K