A recently published study aiming to landscape the global consumption of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug, in the Journal of Addiction, has reported that alcohol and tobacco consumption has cost humans more than a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted life-years.
Compared with the rest of the world, South Asian countries including China, India and Indonesia have very high number of smokers that together account for 45.7 per cent of smokers globally. The highest health burden from substance use is attributable to tobacco smoking, followed by alcohol consumption and illicit drugs.
“Age-standardised prevalence of 20.7 per cent of daily tobacco smoking in South-East Asian countries is among the highest, globally. Proportionately more resources need to be allocated to smoking prevention compared to, for example, injecting drug use, which is 0.03 per cent in the population,” stated Dr P C Gupta, Director of Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Navi Mumbai, in a statement issued Monday.
While the number of tobacco smokers was found to be highest among South Asian and South-East Asian countries, per capita alcohol consumption was high in Central, Eastern, and Western Europe at 11.61, 11.98 and 11.09 litres, respectively. In contrast, use of illicit drugs was found to be much lower. Fewer than one in 20 people were estimated to use cannabis in the past year, and much lower estimates observed for amphetamines, opioids and cocaine.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, surgeon at the Tata Memorial Hospital, said, “The data from this study was important but it should be remembered that countries in South Asia, particularly India, have a major issue of the use of smokeless tobacco. This problem does not get included in international studies. In addition, there is a strongly connected but non-tobacco use problem of areca nut use, which is also a class one carcinogen. Thus the overall impact of tobacco and related products use on cancer problem and on general health, would be much higher in India than estimated in this study.”