Rise in prevalence of tobacco use in state

Experts gathered at B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) here for the 13th Annual Conference of Association of Oncologists of Northeast India on Friday expressed concern over increasing prevalence of tobacco consumption in Assam despite its decrease at the national level.

By ALI FAUZ HASSAN in Guwahati
  • Published 10.02.18
  •  

Guwahati: Experts gathered at B. Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) here for the 13th Annual Conference of Association of Oncologists of Northeast India on Friday expressed concern over increasing prevalence of tobacco consumption in Assam despite its decrease at the national level.

They said 30 per cent of all cancers are caused because of tobacco and alcohol use. Quoting figures from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2, (August 2016 to February 2017), they said while tobacco use in the country decreased from 34.6 per cent in GATS 1 (2009-10) to 28.6 per cent in GATS 2, in Assam it increased from 39.3 per cent to 48.2 per cent in the same period.

BBCI director Amal Chandra Kataki said, "The prevalence of communicable diseases like cholera and diarrhoea decreased from 60.9 per cent in 1990 to 32.7 per cent in 2016 while non-communicable diseases like cardio-vascular disease, cancer and diabetes increased from 30.5 per cent to 55.4 per centin the same period. This can be attributed to a changing paradigm in the pattern of diseases because of increase in life expectancy, urbanisation, industrialisation, changing lifestyles and habits, increase in population and other factors."

He said the incidence of cancer in the Northeast is 150-200 per lakh of population to urban India's 100. "Lung cancer is found to be highest in Aizawl district of Mizoram. Throat cancer is highest in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya (22 per cent) followed by Kamrup urban district (17 per cent). It is a matter of concern that 3.2 lakh cigarette packs are sold in Assam daily. The government earns Rs 9 crore in revenue while it spends Rs 154 crore for control of tobacco-related disease. Altogether 16,000 cancer patients die every year in Assam."

Vishal Rao, an oncologist from Bangalore, said 7,000 chemicals, most of them carcinogenic, are added to tobacco to increase the level of nicotine, which is 1,000 times more addictive than cocaine or heroin. "A total of 10 lakh tobacco consumers die each year in India. Nowadays 20 to 30-year-olds are coming to the hospital with cancer," he said.

The two-day meet will include talks on cancer burden in the Northeast, tobacco-related cancer, lung cancer therapy, ovarian cancer and palliative care.