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 REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 357-363

Smokeless tobacco use in Sri Lanka


1 Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition, Sri Lanka
2 World Health Organization, Regional Office for South East Asia, New Delhi, India
3 Alcohol and Drug Information Centre, Colombo, Sri Lanka
4 World Health Organization, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Correspondence Address:
D N Sinha
World Health Organization, Regional Office for South East Asia, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: World Health Organization., Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-509X.107729

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To comprehensively review the issues of smokeless tobacco use in Sri Lanka . This review paper is based on a variety of sources including Medline, WHO documents, Ministry of Health and Nutrition, Colombo and from other sources. Results: The prevalence of smokeless tobacco (SLT) use in Sri Lanka has been reported high, especially among rural and disadvantaged groups. Different smokeless tobacco products were not only widely available but also very affordable. An increasing popularity of SLT use among the youth and adolescents is a cause for concern in Sri Lanka. There were evidences of diverse benign, premalignant, and malignant oral diseases due to smokeless tobacco use in the country. The level of awareness about health risks related to the consumption of smokeless tobacco products was low, particularly among the people with low socio-economic status. In Sri Lanka various forms of smokeless tobacco products, some of them imported, are used. At the national level, 15.8% used smokeless tobacco products and its use is three-fold higher among men compared to women. Betel quid is by far the traditional form in which tobacco is a general component. Other manufactured tobacco products include pan parag/pan masala, Mawa, Red tooth powder, Khaini, tobacco powder, and Zarda. Some 8.6% of the youth are current users of smokeless tobacco. There are studies demonstrating the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco use, especially on the oral mucosa, however, the level of awareness of this aspect is low. The highest mean expenditure on betel quid alone in rural areas for those earning Rs. 5,000/month was Rs. 952. The core issue is the easy availability of these products. To combat the smokeless tobacco problem, public health programs need to be intensified and targeted to vulnerable younger age groups. Another vital approach should be to levy higher taxation.






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