Introduction: Tobacco use is a leading cause of deaths and Disability Adjusted Life Years lost worldwide, particularly in South-East Asia. Health risks associated with exclusive use of one form of tobacco alone has a different health risk profile when compared to dual use. In order to tease out specific profiles of mutually exclusive categories of tobacco use, we carried out this analysis.
Methods: The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) data was used to describe the profiles of three mutually exclusive tobacco use categories ("Current smoking only," "Current smokeless tobacco [SLT] use only," and "Dual use") in four World Health Organization South-East Asia Region countries, namely Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Thailand. GATS was a nationally representative household-based survey that used a stratified multistage cluster sampling design proportional to population size. Prevalence of different forms of usage were described as proportions. Logistics regression analyses was performed to calculate odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals. All analyses were weighted, accounted for the complex sampling design and conducted using SPSS version 18.
Results: The prevalence of different forms of tobacco use varied across countries. Current tobacco use ranged from 27.2% in Thailand to 43.3% in Bangladesh. Exclusively smoking was more common in Indonesia (34.0%) and Thailand (23.4%) and less common in Bangladesh (16.1%) and India (8.7%). Exclusively using SLT was more common in Bangladesh (20.3%) and India (20.6%) and less common on Indonesia (0.9%) and Thailand (3.5%). Dual use of smoking and SLT was found in Bangladesh (6.8%) and India (5.3%), but was negligible in Indonesia (0.8) and Thailand (0.4%). Gender, age, education and wealth had significant effects on the OR for most forms of tobacco use across all four countries with the exceptions of SLT use in Indonesia and dual use in both Indonesia and Thailand. In general, the different forms of tobacco use increased among males and with increasing age; and decreased with higher education and wealth. The results for urban versus rural residence were mixed and frequently not significant once controlling for the other demographic factors.
Conclusion: This study addressed the socioeconomic disparities, which underlie health inequities due to tobacco use. Tobacco control activities in these countries should take in account local cultural, social and demographic factors for successful implementation.