Spending Rs 850 Cr A Year, Jammu Kashmir Has Kupwara As Its Smoking Capital

by Fahd khan

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir holds No 4 position across India in the ranking of smoker population. The last National Family Health Survey, NFHS-5 said that “38.3% of the male population and 3.6% of the women population in both rural and urban areas of Jammu and Kashmir consume tobacco products.

Huka smoking in Kashmir is quite rampant. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

A recent survey suggested that the Kupwara district has more than half of its population as smokers. Almost 56.6 per cent of the people in the border district use tobacco in any form.

It is followed by Shopian where 52 per cent of the population is smoking or using different smoking products. Of them, five per cent are women.

Anantnag is at No 3 ranking in smoking where 49.9 per cent population is smoking. Budgam has 48.8 per cent of the population smoking.

In Jammu and Kashmir’s 20 districts, the least smoking district is Jammu (26.5 per cent), followed by Kathua (35.4 per cent). Srinagar is not smoking less. It has 38.4 per cent of the population smoking.

“Among females, the highest number belonged to the Bandipora district (9.1 per cent), followed by the Kupwara at 6.8 per cent. In contrast, the summer and winter capitals of Jammu and Kashmir had the least number of women consuming tobacco, at 1.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively.

Tobacco on sale. This tobacco is locally grown and locally manufactured to suit a vast Hukka smoking population.

In 2020, World Health Organisation (WH) said 22.3 per cent of the world’s population consumed Tobacco, among which 36.7 per cent were men and 7.8 per cent were women. In the low and middle-income countries where most tobacco users exist, people are more prone to Tobacco-related illness, and the death rate is the heaviest. It also contributes to poverty as people spend most of their income on tobacco-related products.

Passive smoking or Secondhand smoke also contributes to diseases and illness. Passive smoking means people getting exposed to the smoke emitted from the burning end of the cigarette pilferage. A study has revealed that 4000 chemicals are released whenever a smoker exhales.

In India, under the prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003, a complete ban is in place for advertising and promotion of Tobacco related products through mass media. Still, it is one of the best-performing sectors. After China, India has the world’s largest population f smokers and tobacco production.

Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted by the Mumbai-based International Institute of Population Science (IIPS) in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suggests that Jammu and Kashmir has the highest number of active and passive smokers. Unlike the rest of India, Jammu and Kashmir smokes more tobacco than it chews.

The survey also revealed that 33 per cent of cigarette smokers thought of quitting because of warnings on the pack. 81% knew it causes lung cancer, and 51% were aware of the fact that smoking can trigger a heart attack.

An Economic Times report in 2015 cited sources in the Voluntary Health Association of India to report that Jammu and Kashmir is fast emerging as the smoking capital of the north.

Global Tobacco survey of 2016-17, one in five, or 20.8 per cent of the Jammu and Kashmir population smokes and ranked in the sixth position only behind Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram.

The 2017-18 survey revealed that the state had consumed tobacco products worth Rs 5530 crores over the last seven years and has fetched its sales tax department its highest revenue. The erstwhile state consumes tobacco products for about 800 crores every year.

Jammu and Kashmir were among the top four states with the highest number of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases or COPD. COPD, typically identified by Coughing, wheezing and breathlessness, is among India’s second most frequent killers.

On 21 July 2022 Union Ministry issued a new health warning through an amendment in the cigarettes and other tobacco products (packaging and labelling) Rules, 2008. The notification says that the tobacco products packaged on or after 1 Dec 2022 will now carry a new display image with the warning written on its pack, “Tobacco causes Painful death”. The images will be valid for one year and will change after that. From December 1 2023, the Tobacco products will display a pictorial image with the warning “Tobacco users die younger”, the notification added.


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