A country-wide survey conducted in all 29 states with sample size of 69,296 individuals aged 15 years and above has found that 44.4 per cent of all successful quitters of smoking switched to using smokeless tobacco, namely products like plain chewable tobacco leaves, khaini, pan masala, zarda and gutka. Of all those surveyed, 50.8 per cent men and 8.7 women reported switching to smokeless tobacco use.
Currently, the number of adult users of smokeless tobacco in India is estimated at 206 million, and surpasses the 111.2 million tobacco smokers. Studies have shown that smokeless tobacco users have a high risk for cancer,
As smokeless tobacco is as harmful as smoking, there has to be a concerted awareness generation on harms of smokeless tobacco products and strict enforcement of the ban on pan masala and gutkha containing tobacco or nicotine. Migrant workers being the prime users of smokeless tobacco products they should be targeted by the awareness campaign.
The survey was conducted by Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology.