A whopping 70 million Indian women above age 15 use smokeless tobacco (SLT), which alone constitutes 63 per cent of the world’s SLT consumption, according to a Union Health Ministry report on SLT.The first-ever comprehensive report by the ministry, launched at the ongoing World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) here, also stated that one factor influencing SLT use among disadvantaged women is the desire to suppress hunger while performing difficult and laborious tasks. Easy availability and low cost of the SLT were other key factors promoting SLT use by women.
The SLT use raises women’s risk of adverse reproductive outcomes. The prevalence of SLT use when pregnant or breastfeeding was similar to prevalence of use among all women of reproductive age in India,” said the report. According to the Health Ministry, over 3,500,000 people are dying due to exclusive use of tobacco, of which over 100,000 are dying due to cancer. According to the report, the consumption of SLT stood at 9.5 per cent for the school-going children, with 10.7 per cent of the boys and 7.5 per cent of the girls being its regular users.”India is the first country to prohibit the sale, storage and manufacturing of smokeless tobacco product like gutkha across all states. However, stronger measures are required for effective implementation of the law,” said Amal Pusp, Director at Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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