Tobacco use among women a cause for concern
The habit of tobacco has suddenly grown among the women in this country even though it is harmful to public healh. Tobacco use causes different health problems, including uterus cancer for women.
In Bangladesh, about 126,000 people died of tobacco-attributable diseases in 2018, and this constituted 13.5per cent of all deaths recorded in that year.
World No Tobacco Day was observed across the world on May 31, to raise awareness on the dangers of using tobacco.
According to Bangladesh Country Report (March, 2021) of CSF Global, Bangladesh is home to an estimated 46.3 million adults who use of a variety of combustible and/or smokeless tobacco products. 37.8 million (35.3 per cent) adults are consuming a variety of smoked (e.g., cigarettes, bidis) and/or smokeless (e.g., betel quid with tobacco, gul, sadapata, khaini) tobacco products.
Smoking prevalence is far higher among males (36.2per cent) than among females (0.8per cent), but the use of smokeless tobacco (SLT) is much higher among females (24.8per cent) than males (16.2per cent). There is also variation in the prevalence of tobacco products between rural and urban areas, said the report.
The prevalence of tobacco uses significantly decreased among adults, from 43.3per cent in 2009 to 35.3per cent in 2017 (from 58.0per cent to 46.0per cent among males; from 28.7per centto 25.2per cent among females). This represents an 18.5per cent relative decline of tobacco use prevalence (20.8per cent decline for males;12.2per cent decline for females).
Three annual urban and rural cross-sectional surveys carried out between 2001 and 2003 found that the overall prevalence of smoking, chewing tobacco, and gul usage constituted 20.5per cent, 20.6per cent, and 1.8per cent, respectively. Current smoking and gul usage were significantly higher in males (42.2per cent and 2.2per cent, respectively) than in females (2.3per cent and 1.5per cent, respectively), whereas chewing tobacco was slightly more common in females (21.6per cent) than males (19.4per cent).
Tobacco use was more common among older men, those living in rural areas, men with no education, and men in the lowest wealth quintile. Regional variations were also notable. Although rural men were more likely 27 to smoke cigarettes than urban men, urban smokers tended to smoke more cigarettes per day than their rural counterparts.
In 2017, the WHO supported the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) to pilot tobacco cessation service. Through brief interventions in primary health care settings, NIPSOM set up a training network on tobacco cessation in collaboration with NTCC and DGHS and trained 30 master trainers and 120 primary healthcare physicians on brief interventions.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is an evidence-based treaty that asserts the importance of both demand and supply reduction strategies. Bangladesh ratified the WHO FCTC in 2004, and in 2005, enacted the Smoking and Using of Tobacco Products (Control) Act. The law was amended in 2013 to make it more compliant with the WHO FCTC.
Tobacco use imposes a heavy burden on the societies and families by increasing illness and deaths; worsening economic situation of tobacco users and their dependants; worsening livelihoods of tobacco farmers; harming the environment.
WHO says, tobacco consumption, in any form, kills more than 161,000 people on average every year, amounting to around 19per cent of all deaths in Bangladesh.
The government should take steps to control tobacco. These include increase prices to deter people from taking up the habit; increase awareness of tobacco use impact; provide support to farmers by finding ways to become less dependant on tobacco growing.
It is important for the government to assess the smokers' needs and take their opinion on policies which govern their lives and habits. Cessation support, which suits the smokers' needs, will go a long way in achieving the targets set by Bangladesh government relating to tobacco use and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The author is a freelance