Tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths each year, with 80% of those deaths in low- and middle-income countries. All countries in the WHO South-East Asia Region are low- or middle-income with limited resources and a heavy tobacco toll. 250 million people in this region smoke and a similar number use smokeless tobacco. Roughly half of adult males and one-tenth of adult females use tobacco. Around 10% of youth 13-15 years old are tobacco users. Tobacco kills 1.3 million people in SEARO every year. Unfortunately, tobacco use, second-hand smoke and tobacco advertising remain at high levels.
There are 250 million smokeless tobacco users, however most people are unaware of how harmful these products are. In fact, many people believe smokeless tobacco is good for oral health. There is limited data available on the mortality or economics of smokeless tobacco in this region and tobacco control aimed at this type of tobacco use is weakly implemented.
Currently, 10 out of 11 SEARO countries are parties to the WHO FCTC
World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia. Summary report on the Regional Strategy for Tobacco Control. New Delhi: WHO, 2012.