Smokeless tobacco (SLT) use is associated with multiple adverse health effects. It is prominent in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, but disparities in use within and across these countries are not well documented or understood. This study assessed the prevalence, patterns, and correlates of SLT use in these three countries.
Data came from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, a household survey of adults aged ≥15 years. Data were collected in 2014 (Pakistan), 2017 (Bangladesh), and India (2016–2017). Current SLT use (nasal or oral use) was defined as reported SLT use daily or less than daily at the time of the survey. Prevalence of both overall and specific SLT types were assessed. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess correlates of SLT use.
Overall, SLT use among adults ≥15 years of age was 20.6% in Bangladesh, 21.4% in India, and 7.7% in Pakistan, corresponding to 22.0 million SLT users in Bangladesh, 199.4 million in India, and 9.6 million in Pakistan. Among current tobacco users overall, the percentage of those who used SLT was 58.4% (CI: 56.0–60.7) in Bangladesh, 74.7% (CI: 73.4–76.0) in India, and 40.3% (CI: 36.2–44.5) in Pakistan. The most commonly used oral SLT product was Zarda (14.5%) in Bangladesh, Khaini (11.2%) in India, and Naswar (5.1%) in Pakistan. Females had greater odds of SLT use than males in Bangladesh, but lower odds of SLT use than males in India and Pakistan. In all three countries, the odds of SLT use was higher among those 25 years and older, lower education, lower wealth index, and greater exposure to SLT marketing.
An estimated 231 million adults aged 15 years or older currently use SLT in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, comprising 40.3%-74.7% of overall tobacco product use in these countries. Moreover, marked variations in SLT use exist by population groups. Furthermore, exposure to pro-SLT marketing was found to be associated with higher SLT use compared to non-exposed. It is important that tobacco control strategies address all forms of tobacco product use, including SLT.