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Indian J Public Health. 2011 Jul-Sep;55(3):155-60. doi: 10.4103/0019-557X.89943.

Tobacco use: a major risk factor for non communicable diseases in South-East Asia region.

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Non Communicable Diseases and Social Determinants of Health Cluster, WHO India Country Office, New Delhi, India. thakurj@searo.who


Tobacco use is a serious public health problem in the South East Asia Region where use of both smoking and smokeless form of tobacco is widely prevalent. The region has almost one quarter of the global population and about one quarter of all smokers in the world. Smoking among men is high in the Region and women usually take to chewing tobacco. The prevalence across countries varies significantly with smoking among adult men ranges from 24.3% (India) to 63.1% (Indonesia) and among adult women from 0.4% (Sri Lanka) to 15% (Myanmar and Nepal). The prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among men varies from 1.3% (Thailand) to 31.8% (Myanmar), while for women it is from 4.6% (Nepal) to 27.9% (Bangladesh). About 55% of total deaths are due to Non communicable diseases (NCDs) with 53.4% among females with highest in Maldives (79.4%) and low in Timor-Leste (34.4%). Premature mortality due to NCDs in young age is high in the region with 60.7% deaths in Timor Leste and 60.6% deaths in Bangladesh occurring below the age of 70 years. Age standardized death rate per 100,000 populations due to NCDs ranges from 793 (Bhutan) and 612 (Maldives) among males and 654 (Bhutan) and 461 (Sri Lanka) among females respectively. Out of 5.1 millions tobacco attributable deaths in the world, more than 1 million are in South East Asia Region (SEAR) countries. Reducing tobacco use is one of the best buys along with harmful use of alcohol, salt reduction and promotion of physical activity for preventing NCDs. Integrating tobacco control with broader population services in the health system framework is crucial to achieve control of NCDs and sustain development in SEAR countries.

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