Afghan Frontier: Understanding Tobacco Practices among Migrant Population in India

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi, India.

2 Department of Pulmonary Medicine Max Saket Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, India.


Background: According to the World Refugee Survey by US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, migrants from Afghanistan constitute the 4th largest group of migrants to India. No previous study has been conducted to assess the tobacco consumption status and pattern among this marginalised migrant population. Aim: To get an insight of the tobacco usage pattern, accessibility and attitude towards tobacco cessation among the migrant population from Afghanistan. Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted among a convenience sample of Afghan tobacco users residing in Delhi, India in the month of June 2017. A close-ended self-administered validated questionnaire in Persian language was distributed at local cafés and restaurants. Statistical analysis: Data was entered in MS Excel Spreadsheet and descriptive statistics using SPSS version 21 were carried out. Results: A total of 127 male Afghan tobacco users with mean age of 33.49± 11.97 years completed the questionnaire. Better work opportunities were the most common reason for migration. Most of them (69%) smoked tobacco and 15.5% used only Naswar. Half (52%) of the respondents continue to use tobacco products manufactured in Afghanistan with 62% procuring the product through social means (friends/family). On assessing barriers to tobacco use, majority (85%) found higher cost of tobacco products to be a deterrent while19% agreed lack of availability to be a barrier. 50% felt that law enforcement and tobacco use regulation in India curbed their tobacco use. Tobacco usage was a stress buster for 64% of the respondents. Although 72% were interested in quitting tobacco, 58% feared losing friends if they quit. Strikingly, 93% were unaware about the availability of cessation services. Conclusion: Even as Afghans migrate from their homeland, they carry their cultural and social practices with them, including tobacco products, patterns and practices.


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