Guwahati, Jul 30 (UNI) Smoking beedis, the ''poor man's cigarette'', is as dangerous, if not more than smoking cigarettes, with a greater percentage of people addicted to beedis compared to cigarettes.
Revealing this at a seminar on ''Beedi and Public Health'', Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) member Ruchira Neog pointed that beedis pose as grave heath hazards as other tobacco products do, contrary to the misconception that the beedi was a safer option.
A report on 'Bidi Monograph' was also released by the National Rurual Health Mission (NHRM) Director, Assam, Dr JB Ekka during the seminar, which had comprehensive data on beedi smokers in the country and its hazards.
There are more than 40 million tobacco users in the country, with tobacco accounting for 40 per cent of health problems.
About 12 per cent adult females use tobacco in the country against 47 per cent in case of adult males. The global figures are 14 per cent for female and 47 per cent for males.
Dr Chiranjeev Kotoky, public heath expert, informed that tobacco is estimated to account for more deaths by 2020 than by all lives claimed by HIV, TB, maternal mortality, road accidents, homicide and suicide taken together.
Elaborating on emergence of beedi as a major tobacco form, he said the rural illiterate masses are prone to beedi smoking and highlighted that most beedi users are unaware of the health risks they run, unlike cigarette smokers who are aware of the hazards involved.
He informed that beedi users outnumber cigarette smokers by about eight times in the country.
The cheap price of beedis make it a more economical addictive among the poor, state tobacco cell senior consultant Dr Arzoo Dutta said.
The excise relief and low taxation cut prices as well as engagement and exploitation of women labours decreased the cost, she added.
Involvement of child labour is another ill-effect of beedis, she indicated.
UNI SG DPM AB 1518