Background: Use of smokeless tobacco (SLT) is widely prevalent in India and Indian subcontinent. Cohort and case-control studies in India and elsewhere report excess mortality due to its use.
Objective: The aim was to estimate the SLT use-attributable deaths in males and females, aged 35 years and older, in India.
Materials and methods: Prevalence of SLT use in persons aged 35 years and older was obtained from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey in India and population size and deaths in the relevant age-sex groups were obtained from UN estimates (2010 revision) for 2008. A meta-relative risk (RR) based population attributable fraction was used to estimate attributable deaths in persons aged 35 years and older. A random effects model was used in the meta-analysis on all-cause mortality from SLT use in India including four cohort and one case-control study. The studies included in the meta-analysis were adjusted for smoking, age and education.
Results: The prevalence of SLT use in India was 25.2% for men and 24.5% for women aged 35 years and older. RRs for females and males were 1.34 (1.27-1.42) and 1.17 (1.05-1.42), respectively. The number of deaths attributable to SLT use in India is estimated to be 368127 (217,076 women and 151,051 men), with nearly three-fifth (60%) of these deaths occurring among women.
Conclusion: SLT use caused over 350,000 deaths in India in 2010, and nearly three-fifth of SLT use-attributable deaths were among women in India. This calls for targeted public health intervention focusing on SLT products especially among women.