Socioeconomic Inequality in the Prevalence of Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco use in India

  • Thakur, Jarnail Singh (Community Medicine, PGIMER) ;
  • Prinja, Shankar (Community Medicine, PGIMER) ;
  • Bhatnagar, Nidhi (Community Medicine, PGIMER) ;
  • Rana, Saroj (Community Medicine, PGIMER) ;
  • Sinha, Dhirendra Narain (South East Asian Regional Office, World Health Organization) ;
  • Singh, Poonam Khetarpal (South East Asian Regional Office, World Health Organization)
  • Published : 2013.11.30


Background: Tobacco consumption has been identified as the single biggest cause of inequality in morbidity and mortality. Understanding pattern of socioeconomic equalities in tobacco consumption in India will help in designing targeted public health control measures. Materials and Methods: Nationally representative data from the India Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in 2009-2010 was analyzed. The survey provided information on 69,030 respondents aged 15 years and above. Data were analyzed according to regions for estimating prevalence of current tobacco consumption (both smoking and smokeless) across wealth quintiles. Multiple logistic regression analysis predicted the impact of socioeconomic determinants on both forms of current tobacco consumption adjusting for other socio-demographic variables. Results: Trends of smoking and smokeless tobacco consumption across wealth quintiles were significant in different regions of India. Higher prevalence of smoking and smokeless tobacco consumption was observed in the medium wealth quintiles. Risk of tobacco consumption among the poorest compared to the richest quintile was 1.6 times higher for smoking and 3.1 times higher for smokeless forms. Declining odds ratios of both forms of tobacco consumption with rising education were visible across regions. Poverty was a strong predictor in north and south Indian region for smoking and in all regions for smokeless tobacco use. Conclusions: Poverty and poor education are strong risk factors for both forms of tobacco consumption in India. Public health policies, therefore, need to be targeted towards the poor and uneducated.


Tobacco;wealth quintiles;smoking;smokeless;India;public health policy


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