Tobacco is one of the most important preventable causes of death and disease globally. India, the world’s second most populous country with over a third of the population using tobacco, ranks high when it comes to the global burden of disease attributable to tobacco. Tobacco kills over one million Indians annually.
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A study, “Tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices among urban low socioeconomic women in Mumbai” was conducted by the Tata Memorial Hospital to assess changes in pre-and-post-intervention tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices among women.
It shows prevalence of smokeless tobacco use is very high among urban women from lower socioeconomic strata. Tobacco awareness programmes and cessation services for this group must be planned and implemented, it said. Nearly all participants used the smokeless forms and two participants also smoked beedis.
Among smokeless tobacco users, majority (94.23%) used masheri-burnt tobacco powder which is used to clean teeth, 80.38% women used only masheri, while the rest used it in combination with other forms of tobacco. When asked regarding willingness to quit tobacco, 78.46% expressed their desire. Majority of the women (61.92%) felt it was not difficult to quit tobacco. The frequency of masheri use was 1 to 3 times/day for majority (76.3%) participants. The median age of starting masheri was 15 years (range: 4-70) and the median duration of using it was 35 years (range: 1-72). Most women (88.84%) used tobacco within half an hour of getting up in the morning.