New Delhi: 80 percent of more than 300 million consumers of smokeless tobacco in 70 countries belong to India and Bangladesh, a report on the global use of smokeless tobacco has claimed.
The report 'Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health: A Global Perspective' has claimed that majority of smokeless tobacco users (89 percent) are in Southeast Asia, which also has the highest oral cancer rates in the world.
As many as 32 leading experts from around the world contributed to the report, which was released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.
"Users in India and Bangladesh make up 80 percent of total smokeless tobacco users in the world. Prevalence among men is high across most of the region, varying between 25 per cent and 51 per cent in five countries," the report said.
However, use by adult women is similar to or greater than use by men in some low and middle-income countries. Among youth aged 13 to 15 years, prevalence is also high across the region, equivalent to that of cigarettes, it added.
The report says that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer in humans.
"More than 30 carcinogens have been identified in smokeless tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco use also causes adverse oral health outcomes including oral mucosal lesions, leukoplakia, and periodontal disease.
"Additionally, smokeless tobacco products contain nicotine, and users of these products demonstrate signs of dependence including symptoms of withdrawal upon cessation of use," the report said.
In addition to giving details about health effects of smokeless tobacco products, the report also examines the distinct challenges and policy solutions in reducing the burden of smokeless tobacco use.
The report claimed that a wide range of smokeless tobacco products with different characteristics are in use around the world, yet limited data are available detailing the contents of these products.
In countries with the highest prevalence of smokeless tobacco use, it said, "smokeless tobacco prices are lower, warning labels are weaker, surveillance is less developed, fewer evidence-based cessation interventions are available, and fewer resources are devoted to prevention and control programs, when compared with cigarettes."
Chief of Global Tobacco Control Branch in CDC's Office on Smoking and Health Samira Asma said reduction of smokeless tobacco use should be an integral component of national tobacco prevention and control strategies.
Executive Director of Voluntary Health Association of India Bhavna Mukhopadhyay said, "India has the highest prevalence of oral cancer globally, with 75, 000 to 80, 000 new cases of oral cancers in a year, as per available evidence there are more than 3000 chemical ingredients in smokeless tobacco products, out of these, 28 chemical ingredients are proven carcinogens."