90% workers use tobacco: study

Result of first-ever survey in Kerala to gauge tobacco-induced health issues among migrant construction workers

A first-ever study in Kerala to gauge tobacco-induced health issues among migrant construction workers has found that a whopping 90% of the workers used tobacco products.

The State has a migrant worker population of 40 lakh, the majority of them in the construction industry. A high 42.27% reported pre-cancerous oral mucosal lesions in the study that covered 2,163 (1982 male and 181 female) construction workers aged between 14 years and 55 years. Among tobacco users, 84.74% were males and 5.51% females. Nearly 35% used tobacco for 6 to 10 years, according to the study conducted by the Departments of Public Health Dentistry at St. Gregorios Dental College and the Kannur Dental College in Kothamangalam, Muvattupuzha, Perumbavoor, Angamaly and Aluva municipalities of Ernakulam district.

The study was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice. Trained interviewers used questionnaires to collect data including duration and type of tobacco use besides quit attempts.

Over half (52.3%) of those surveyed used smokeless form of tobacco including substances such as pan masala which are banned in Kerala. Among smokers, 15.93% used cigarette and 12.76% used bidis. Well over a quarter (28.64%) of the migrants covered in the study used both smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco.

The study also revealed that 88.83% never tried to quit tobacco use, while 58.09% were not willing to quit tobacco. The study attributes migration-related stress to the high tobacco use among the migrants.

Anzil K.S. Ali, Senior Lecturer, St Gregorios, and the first author of the study said: “The inter-state migrant workers who play a major role in our construction sector are victims of occupations involving hard labour, poverty, and low literacy coupled with ignorance. Targeted behaviour change communication in migrants’ native languages is the need of the hour.”

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:22:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/90-workers-use-tobacco-study/article19900363.ece

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