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Media Statement

For Immediate Release: October 19, 2010
Contact: CDC Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Statement Regarding Release of Global Adult Tobacco Survey Results by India

On October 19, India released its Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results. Many countries conduct surveys to monitor adult tobacco use, but until recently, no single standard global survey for adults has consistently tracked tobacco use, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and tobacco control measures. A fact sheet summarizing the results from India is attached.

Highlights from the GATS India survey are as follows:

  • Almost 35% of Indian adults 15 years of age and older (275 million adults) consume some form of tobacco.
  • Smokeless tobacco use is among the highest in the world; one in three men (32.9%) and almost one in five (18.4%) women use smokeless tobacco.
  • 16% of adult males 15 years of age and older smoke bidis in India. (Bidis are handrolled cigarettes that contain tobacco wrapped in a tendu leaf.)
  • Even though India bans most forms of tobacco advertising, 65% of adults noticed tobacco advertisement or promotion in the 30 days prior to the survey.
  • Almost 30% of workers reported exposure to secondhand smoke in their workplace, despite passage of a law two years ago banning smoking in all public places.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature disease and death in the world and kills up to half of those who use it. In the 20th century, the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide; during the 21st century, it could kill one billion. In India alone, over 1 million people die each year of a tobacco-related disease. Containing this epidemic is one of the most important public health priorities of our time.

To effectively combat the tobacco epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend MPOWER, a set of six proven strategies: monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco. Monitoring the tobacco epidemic is a key step in managing it. CDC oversees GATS, which is designed to produce national and sub-national estimates on tobacco use, exposure to secondhand smoke, and quit attempts among adults. GATS also indirectly measures the impact of tobacco control and prevention initiatives.

Thirteen countries besides India participated in the first phase of GATS: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam. As with the other participating countries, results from GATS will assist India in translating data into action through improved policies and programs.

GATS is a scientifically representative household survey of all noninstitutionalized men and women aged 15 years of age and older using a standard and consistent protocol. Survey data are collected electronically during in-person interviews.

In India, GATS was conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences under the leadership and coordination of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Financial support was provided by the Government of India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with additional support from the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco (partners include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CDC, CDC Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, WHO, and the World Lung Foundation). Technical assistance is provided by CDC, WHO, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and RTI International. Program support is provided by the CDC Foundation.

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