Aims: To obtain baseline information about tobacco use prevalence, knowledge and attitude among school personnel in Eight North-eastern states of India (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura).
Material and methods: A sample of schools with probability proportional to the enrollment in grades 8-10. Anonymous self-administered questionnaire was used for all personnel working in the selected schools.
Results: The school response rate was 100% in all states except Meghalaya (96%) and Tripura (92%). Over 70% of school personnel participated in the survey, the proportion of men being 56% (Meghalaya) to 83% (Assam). The prevalence of daily smoking ranged from 25.9% (Mizoram) to 12.8% (Arunachal Pradesh) and of smokeless tobacco use from 57.8% (Mizoram) to 10.7% (Assam). Daily smoking among men and women was similar in five states but not in Arunachal Pradesh (men 15.0%, women 4.0%), Nagaland (men 18.7%, 5.0%), and Tripura (men 18.6%, women 0.4%). In four states cigarette was the most prevalent form of smoking (range 41% to 55%) whereas in other four states it was bidi (range 34% to 53%). Although the number of women was small, cigarettes smoking was reported more among women than men in four states: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland. Over 50% of current smokeless tobacco users reported using betel quid in six states, except Mizoram (20%) and Sikkim (16%).
Conclusion: Tobacco use among school personnel was high. High smoking rates reported by women were unexpected.