A cross-sectional study of the prevalence and correlates of tobacco use in Chennai, Delhi, and Karachi: data from the CARRS study

BMC Public Health. 2015 May 11;15:483. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1817-z.


Background: Tobacco burdens in India and Pakistan require continued efforts to quantify tobacco use and its impacts. We examined the prevalence and sociodemographic and health-related correlates of tobacco use in Delhi, Chennai (India), and Karachi (Pakistan).

Methods: Analysis of representative surveys of 11,260 participants (selected through multistage cluster random sampling; stratified by gender and age) in 2011 measured socio-demographics, tobacco use history, comorbid health conditions, and salivary cotinine. We used bivariate and multivariate regression analyses to examine factors associated with tobacco use.

Results: Overall, 51.8 % were females, and 61.6 % were below the age of 45 years. Lifetime (ever) tobacco use prevalence (standardized for world population) was 45.0 %, 41.3 %, and 42.5 % among males, and 7.6 %, 8.5 %, and 19.7 % among females in Chennai, Delhi, and Karachi, respectively. Past 6 month tobacco use prevalence (standardized for world population) was 38.6 %, 36.1 %, and 39.1 % among males, and 7.3 %, 7.1 %, and 18.6 % among females in Chennai, Delhi, and Karachi, respectively. In multivariable regression analyses, residing in Delhi or Karachi versus Chennai; older age; lower education; earning less income; lower BMI; were each associated with tobacco use in both sexes. In addition, semi-skilled occupation versus not working and alcohol use were associated with tobacco use in males, and having newly diagnosed dyslipidemia was associated with lower odds of tobacco use among females. Mean salivary cotinine levels were higher among tobacco users versus nonusers (235.4; CI: 187.0-283.8 vs. 29.7; CI: 4.2, 55.2, respectively).

Conclusion: High prevalence of tobacco use in the South Asian region, particularly among men, highlights the urgency to address this serious public health problem. Our analyses suggest targeted prevention and cessation interventions focused on lower socioeconomic groups may be particularly important.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Tobacco Use / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control