The PHD Group carried out further analysis of tobacco data from Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys of 2001 and 2006 for National Health Education, Information and Communication Centre (NHEICC), MoHP in 2009. The objective of this analysis was to understand the extent of tobacco use among women and men and its impact on the health of women and children. The data are limited to women and men aged 15-49. As the data were not particularly focused on tobacco and its impact on health several aspects of health impacts of tobacco use are not available. However, impact of tobacco use on reproductive health has to a certain extent been analysed. Tobacco (any tobacco – smoking or non-smoking like chewing, sniffing, etc) use prevalence was higher among men (53 percent) compared to women (20 percent) and higher in rural areas (30 percent) than in urban areas (23 percent) in 2006 (Figure 1). Of all tobacco products cigarette smoking was the highest among both men (30 percent) and women (15 percent) while the consumption of other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, snuff and other tobacco was very high among men (37 percent) compared to women (5 percent). Use of tobacco was highest (65 percent) among men in the lowest wealth quintile and lowest (43 percent) among men in the highest wealth quintile and this pattern is found true among women too (36 percent and 8 percent respectively).
Impact of tobacco use on the health of infants are clearly seen as infants born to mothers who smoke or use tobacco are, on average, of smaller size than their counterparts whose mothers did not use tobacco. Similarly infants born to mothers who use tobacco are of low weight. Using data from NDHS 2001 and 2006 it was possible to compare tobacco use prevalence. It was found that tobacco use prevalence has declined among men in 2006 compared to 2001.
Impact of tobacco use was also seen on women’s health such as women who smoke experienced earlier menopause, have lower fecundity and more miscarriages.