Ban on smoking ineffective;hikes consumption of tobacco products

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New Delhi, Oct 19 (UNI) Instead of improving the health of the people, the ban on smoking in public places has done just the opposite as an ASSOCHAM survey released here today shows that it has resulted in a phenomenal increase in the consumption of tobacco chewing products, such as 'Gutka'.

The ban has been effective to the extent that it has resulted in a 25 per cent decline in the sales of 'beedis' and cigarettes, with the impact being higher among the lower middle class -- the largest consumer of products injurious to health.

Not surprisingly, the ban has little effect on the upper classes.

The survey, based on a random sample of 1,500 retail tobacco kiosks, was conducted by the ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

The sale of 'gutka,' 'khaini,' 'zarda' and 'pan masala' has increased. The cities where the consumption of these products has increased include Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Mumbai, Aligarh, Kanpur, Banaras, Allahabad and Delhi.

Nearly 65 per cent respondents revealed that they had twin bad habits of smoking 'beedi' and cigarettes and consuming other tobacco products.

The survey revealed that tobacco consumption was the highest among low and lower-middle income households.

The consumption of tobacco was higher among urban low and lower-middle income households than the same income classes in rural areas.

The survey also highlighted that tobacco consumption was extremely high in cities like Hyderabad, Patna, Lucknow, Mumbai and Delhi.

It found that the prevalence of tobacco chewing was more among men than women.

Disregarding the sane advice of doctors, the survey found that nearly 67 per cent of men were smokers and 63 per cent chewing tobacco products.

The two cities where tobacco consumption was highest were Hyderabad and Mumbai.

A high 69 per cent in the age group of 31-40 chew tobacco, followed by 65 per cent in the younger age group of 21-30.

In the age group of 41 to 50, as much as 52 per cent chew tobacco, making it seem as if better sense dawns as people grow old.

The survey revealed that the percentage of people chewing tobacco is higher among the illiterate population.

Sadly enough, among youth, between the age group of 19 to 26, tobacco intake has increased by 50 per cent due to the ban on cigarette smoking. The resultant impact on college students is higher.

Nearly 40 per cent of the college goers in the age group of 18 to 24 chew four to eight tobacco sachets a day -- ruining their health when they are so young.

In the age group 25-38, 53 per cent chew seven to ten sachets a day.

Of the total amount of tobacco produced in the country, about 48 per cent is in the form of chewing tobacco, 38 per cent as 'beedis,' and only 14 per cent as cigarettes.

There is danger in the shift in consumption pattern from cigarettes to chewing tobacco. One may end up with mouth, gum, esophagus or intestinal cancer due to this.

UNI SG SKB AS1716

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