Background: The Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) and Heaviness of Smoking Index (HSI) are extensively used methods to measure the severity of nicotine dependence among smokers. The primary objective of the study was to assess the nicotine dependence amongst currently smoking Nepalese population.
Methods: A community based cross-sectional study was conducted between August and November 2014. Information was collected using semi-structured questionnaire from three districts of Nepal. Data on demographic characteristics, history of tobacco use and level of nicotine dependence were collected from 587 smokers through face to face interviews and self-administered questionnaires. Non-parametric test were used to compare significant differences among different variables.
Results: The median age of respondents was 28 (Inter-Quartile Range: 22-40) years and the median duration of smoking was 10 (5-15) years. Similarly, the median age for smoking initiation was 16 (13-20) years and the median smoking pack year was 4.2 (1.5-12). One third of the respondents consumed smokeless tobacco products. Half of the respondents wanted to quit smoking. The median score for FTND and HSI was 4 (2-5) and 2 (0-3) respectively. There was significant difference in median FTND score with place of residence (p = 0.03), year of smoking (p = 0.03), age at smoking initiation (p = 0.02), smoking pack year (p < 0.001) and consumption of smokeless products (p < 0.05). Similarly, there was also significant difference in median HSI score with year of smoking (p = 0.002), age of smoking initiation (p < 0.001), smoking pack year (p < 0.001), and consumption of smokeless products (p < 0.05). As per FTND test score, two in ten current smokers had high nicotine dependence (FTND > 6), and HSI scored that three in ten current smokers had high nicotine dependence (HSI > 3).
Conclusion: Our finding revealed that nicotine dependence is prevalent among Nepalese smoking population. Further studies are required for assurance of tools through bio-markers. Next, smoking cessation program need to be developed considering level of nicotine dependence and pattern of tobacco use.
Keywords: Current smoking; FTND; HSI; Nicotine dependence.