J&K ranks 6th in India for tobacco use prevalence, over 20% population affected

Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory has been identified as having the 6th highest prevalence of tobacco use in the country, with over 20 percent of the population engaging in tobacco consumption, according to officials.

Speaking with the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Dr Mir Mushtaq, State Nodal Officer (Kashmir Division) for the National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP), said that the prevalence of smoking tobacco in the region stands at 20.8%, ranking it sixth in the country, following Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram.

“The prevalence of smokeless tobacco in J&K is the lowest in the country at 4.3%, just after Himachal Pradesh,” he said.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2 data, 35.2% of men, 5.1% of women, and 20.8% of all adults in J&K smoke tobacco. It adds that 6.8% of men, 1.5% of women, and 4.3% of all adults currently use smokeless tobacco. Overall, 39.7% of men, 6.2% of women, and 23.7% of all adults either smoke tobacco or use smokeless tobacco.

Dr Mushtaq said the government has implemented numerous measures to reduce tobacco consumption. “Over the past four years, thousands of challans have been issued and substantial fines collected from violators for smoking in public places in the Kashmir division. These efforts have resulted in hundreds of people quitting smoking, with thousands receiving counselling and pharmacotherapy sessions,” he said.

“Awareness programs are being conducted to inform people about the ill effects of tobacco. If we can make people conscious of the dangers, enforcement will not be as necessary,” the Nodal Officer said, adding, “Various awareness initiatives have already been launched to educate the public about the hazards of tobacco use, and officials have been instructed to carry out regular enforcement drives for the implementation of COTPA-2003.”

According to officials, smokers and tobacco users are 2.5 times more likely to develop tuberculosis (TB). “Tobacco use raises the risk of TB, increases recurrence, and impairs treatment,” they said while urging people to quit tobacco for a healthier future.

The government of Jammu and Kashmir has imposed a complete ban on the sale of loose cigarettes, loose bidis, and loose tobacco. All educational institutions and tourist destinations have been declared tobacco-free zones.

Tobacco is recognised as the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide, killing over seven million people globally and more than one million in India annually. Lung cancer has emerged as the second most common cancer, and in recent decades, Kashmir has seen a rise in cases of lung and breast cancers.

Hospital-based data from the Kashmir Valley reveals a higher incidence of lung cancer among males, directly correlated to the duration and frequency of smoking. While quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing cancer, the risk does not disappear entirely, the officials said—(KNO)


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