J&K Fast Becoming North India’s Puffing Capital
Aditi Tandon (Tribune)
Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the smoking capital of north India. Fresh analysis of tobacco prevalence data in the country has revealed that adults in J-K are spending more on cigarettes and bidis than their counterparts in other northern states.
• J&K has the highest spending on cigarettes, bidis in the North, says a latest survey
• It also has the highest cigarette use prevalence in north India
• The state has highest number of adults who are exposed to tobacco smoke at workplace
The state even beats the densely populated Delhi. Also, J&K’s monthly spending on ‘smoking tobacco’ far outstrips the national monthly expenditure averages. While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in J-K spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20, respectively, on these tobacco forms. Bidi expenditure in J&K is thus 1.5 times the country’s average.
Consequently, health hazards due to passive smoking are also more in J&K than elsewhere in the North.
The latest Global Adult Tobacco Survey reveals that J&K has the highest cigarette smoking prevalence among the northern states -Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Uttrakhand, Haryana and Delhi. Prevalence for J-K is 12% as against 9.9% for Delhi. Punjab and Haryana have the lowest (3.7% and 3.8%, respectively) proportion of adults smoking cigarettes.
J&K’s cigarette use prevalence (12%) is almost double the nationwide prevalence of 5.7%. “These are huge areas of concern for J&K, not traditionally seen as a state where the use of smoking tobacco would be so high. The analysis will help state governments focus better on problem areas. While nationally the use of smokeless tobacco forms is twice than that of smoking tobacco, north India bucks the trend and reports the reverse,” Monika Arora of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), told The Tribune.
Trends on state-level second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure have also been made available for the first time. It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9%) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4%) are in Chandigarh.
On another major indicator of health impact of tobacco — SHS exposure at home — Uttarakhand fares the worst with 85% adults reporting smoke exposure followed by 82% in Himachal. Punjab reports the lowest (32.1%) SHS exposure at home. Even on tobacco cessation, Jammu and Kashmir lags behind most states in the North. Whereas Haryana reported the highest proportion of adults (34.2%) who attempted to quit smoking, Jammu and Kashmir reported only 29.6%. The national average of quit attempts is 38.4%. The Valley lags far behind.
PHFI and HRIDAY (Health and Related Information Dissemination among Youth) conducted the crucial analysis on tobacco burden in north India in association with the Health Ministry. The data is being disseminated to states.