Extending Application of the ‘Hardcore’ Definition to Smokeless Tobacco Use: Estimates from a Nationally Representative Population in India and its Implications
Background: The term ‘hardcore’ has been applied to use of smoking tobacco and generally referred to as the inability or unwillingness of regular smokers to quit. The component constructs of hardcore except nicotine dependence are product neutral. With the use of ‘time to first chew’ as a measure of nicotine dependence,hardcore definition can be extended to characterize smokeless tobacco users. Hardcore users respond less to tobacco cessation interventions, and are prone to tobacco induced diseases including cancer. Thus identifying hardcore users would help in estimate the burden of high risk population for tobacco induced diseases. Smokeless tobacco use is predominant and accounts for more than 50% of oral cancer in India. Hence, hardcore chewing information could be used for planning of tobacco and cancer control interventions. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and associated factors of hardcore smokeless tobacco use in India.
Materials and Methods: Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)-India 2010 data were analyzed to quantify hardcore smokeless tobacco use in India with following five criteria: (1) current daily smokeless tobacco use; (2) no quit attempt in the past 12 months of survey or last quit attempt of less than 24 hours duration; (3) no intention to quit in next 12 months or not interested in quitting; (4) time to first use of smokeless tobacco product within 30 minutes of waking up; and (5) knowledge of smokeless tobacco hazards.
Results: The number of hardcore smokeless tobacco users among adult Indians is estimated to be 5% (39.5 million). This group comprises 23.2% of daily smokeless tobacco users. The population prevalence varied from 1.4-9.1% across different national regions of India. Logistic regression modelling indicated age, education and employment status to be the major predictors of hardcore smokeless tobacco use in India.
Conclusions: The presence of a huge number (39.5 million) of hardcore smokeless tobacco users is a challenge to tobacco control and cancer prevention in India. There is an unmet need for a universal tobacco cessation programme and intensification of anti-tobacco education in communities.