We examined the magnitude of smokeless tobacco (SLT) use in India and identified policy gaps to ascertain the priorities for SLT control in India and other high SLT burden countries in the Southeast Asia region. We reviewed and analysed the legal and policy framework to identify policy gaps, options and priority areas to address the SLT burden in India and lessons thereof. In India, 21.4% adults, including 29.6% of men, 12.8% of women, use SLT while more than 0.35 million Indians die every year due to SLT use. SLT use remains a huge public health concern for other countries in the region as well. Priority areas for SLT control should include: constant monitoring, increasing taxes and price of SLT products, strengthening and strict enforcement of existing laws, integration of SLT cessation with all health and development programmes, banning of advertisement and promotion of SLT, increasing age of access to tobacco up to 21 years, introducing licensing for the sale of SLT, standardising of SLT packaging and preventing SLT industry interference in the implementation of SLT control policies besides a committed multistakeholder approach for effective policy formulation and enforcement. SLT control in India and the other high SLT burden countries, especially in the Southeast Asia region, should focus on strengthening and implementing the above policy priorities.
Keywords: health policy; prevention strategies; public health.
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