More than 300 million people in at least 70 countries use smokeless tobacco
, by Ted Trimble
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at the National Conference on Smoking or Health in Mumbai, India released the first-ever report on the global use and public health impact of smokeless tobacco: Smokeless Tobacco and Public Health: A Global Perspective.
The report found that:
- Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer in humans – and 300 million people in at least 70 countries use these harmful products.
- Smokeless tobacco products contain more than 30 carcinogens (any substance that causes cancer).
The report also portrays the challenges and policy solutions to reduce the global use of smokeless tobacco. In countries with the highest prevalence, the challenges include:
- Smokeless tobacco prices are lower;
- Warning labels are less effective;
- Methods to collect and study information are less developed;
- Fewer proven cessation programs are available; and
- Fewer resources are devoted to prevention and control programs, when compared with cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.
Developing and implementing effective public health strategies will require more commitment and resources, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) where the smokeless tobacco burden is high. Mark Parascandola, PhD, MPH, Epidemiologist with NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch at the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences said, "We chose to release this report in India, which faces the largest burden of any country from smokeless tobacco use and related disease. We hope that the findings and recommendations in this report will lead to expanded research efforts and the implementation of effective interventions to control smokeless tobacco use."
In recognition of the need for more evidence and capacity building in tobacco control, NCI has partnered with USAID on the PEER Health to support research in this area. The NCI will also work with CDC to introduce a tobacco control curriculum into the Field Epidemiology Training Program.
In addition to capacity building, the NCI Center for Global Health disseminates information and best practices that drive improvements in cancer research and control, and provides technical assistance as countries work to implement cancer control programs. But despite all these efforts, so much more yet needs to be done to promote cancer research and tobacco control worldwide.
What Can You Do?
Information is key! Post a button on your Web site for quick access to CDC’s Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS) Data application, and join us in the fight to increase awareness on the devastation of smokeless tobacco.