29 % Indians exposed to second-hand smoke outside home

About five in ten adults (52.3 per cent) were exposed to second-hand smoke at home and 29.0 per cent at public places-- mainly in public transport and restaurants. The study found that 34.6 per cent of adults use tobacco in any form out of which 47.9 per cent were males and 20.3 per cent were females.

While 14 per cent of adults- 24.3 per cent of males and 2.9 per cent of females- smoked tobacco, 25.0 per cent of adults chewed tobacco. More than five per cent of adults were cigarette smokers out of which 10.3 per cent were males and 0.8 per cent were females. Bidi smokers were 9.2 per cent of adults-- 16.0 per cent of males and 1.9 per cent of females.

Among daily tobacco users, 60.2 per cent consumed tobacco within half an hour of waking up. Average age at initiation of tobacco use was 17.8 with 25.8 per cent of females starting tobacco use before the age of 15, the study said.

Among minors (age 15-17), 9.6 per cent consumed tobacco in some form and most of them were able to purchase tobacco products. Five in ten current smokers (46.6 per cent) and users of smokeless tobacco (45.2 per cent) planned to quit or at least thought of quitting.

Releasing the report, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad today said that while livelihood of tobacco growing farmers cannot be endangered, the Government must work towards moving farmers and farm workers out of the tobacco industry.

"We cannot indefinitely tolerate a public health hazard in the name of protecting livelihoods," he said after releasing the first Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)-– India 2010, here. Emphasising the need for inter-sectoral coordination for comprehensive tobacco control strategies, Azad said the health ministry has formed collaborations with the Agriculture Ministry for a project on alternative crops to tobacco and coordination with other stakeholder ministries such as Human Resource Development, Information and Broadcasting, Rural Development and Labour Ministry.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State Dinesh Trivedi called for clearer pictorial warnings and emphasis on monitoring chewing tobacco use. He also emphasised the need for alternative crops to tobacco.

The survey was conducted under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, an autonomous organisation of Ministry of Health acting as the nodal agency.

Technical assistance was provided by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and RTI International. Interviews were conducted with 69,296 adults age 15 and above, 33,767 men and 35,529 women age 15 and above. The sample size was of 72,000 households and key survey activities having been carried out in 19 languages.

Approximately 5.5 million people die due to tobacco use every year globally, out of which close to 0.9 million deaths occur in India due to diseases related to tobacco use.

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