Smoked tobacco products and the harmful effects of exposure to tobacco smoke are often the subjects of scientific literature, advocacy campaigns, and even legislation and litigation. However, it is critical that smokeless tobacco is not forgotten in our policy debates. This is particularly true for women of Bangladesh and India. While the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among reproductive-aged women was less than 1% in most of the countries participating in the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), the prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among reproductive-aged women was 20.1% in Bangladesh and 14.9% in India. These figures are from data collected between 2008 and 2010.
Bangladesh recently passed amendments to its national tobacco control law, Smoking and Using of Tobacco Products (Control) Act, 2005. Smokeless tobacco products were brought under the ambit of the law, which means that advertising of smokeless tobacco products will be prohibited and smokeless tobacco packaging must display large, graphic health warnings. The importance of the inclusion of smokeless tobacco products under the law in Bangladesh cannot be overstated. With coverage of smokeless tobacco products, roughly 21 million women who were previously overlooked by the law will now be warned about the deadly effects of the tobacco products they use.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age – 14 Countries, 2008-2010. MMWR 2012;61:877-882.