Social Determinants and the Prevalence of Paan Masala Use among Adults in India: Results from Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2016-17

Document Type : Research Articles


1 School of Health Systems Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.

2 Datta Meghe Institute of Higher Education and Research, Sawangi, Maharashtra, India.

3 Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India


Background: Gutkha or Paan masala with tobacco is commonly used smokeless tobacco product in India. Given the restrictions on advertisement and promotion of Gutkha and the necessity of warning labels on tobacco products, the tobacco industry has popularised paan masala without tobacco as a surrogate product. Paan masala itself is harmful for health but remains beyond scope of current tobacco control policies. It was important to understand prevalence and determinants of its use (with or without tobacco). Methods: Data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS)-2, India was used to estimate prevalence of paan masala use (with or without tobacco) in India. Multi-nominal regression and logistic regression were used to calculate risk ratios and odds ratios. Results: The prevalence of any form of paan masala was 12.1% among adults in India. Prevalence was higher among males (17.8%) than females (6.0%), aged 25-44 years (14.5%) than those aged 65 years or above (9.0%). Relative risk ratio (RRR) for Paan masala with tobacco was significantly high among those with no formal schooling (RRR:2.00) and among those in poorest wealth quintiles (RRR:1.26). While, RRR were lower for Paan masala use without tobacco among those with no formal schooling (RRR:0.95) and among poorest wealth quintiles (RRR:0.78). Region-wise AOR were highest for North-East (AOR:4.80) and Central regions (AOR:4.76) compared to South India. Conclusion: The prevalence of paan masala use is high in India. Persons belonging to lower socioeconomic status or having no formal schooling have higher risk of consuming paan masala with tobacco. However, persons from higher wealth quintiles or having formal schooling had higher risk of use of paan masala without tobacco. These findings need careful attention of policy makers and law enforcers as it indicates different marketing strategies might have adopted by industry to target these two mutually exclusive population groups.


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