While cigarette smoking is a known killer, many people do not realize that the chewing of tobacco and its use in products other than cigarettes and cigars, generally labeled as smokeless tobacco, is linked to more than a quarter of a million deaths worldwide each year, reports a recent British research.
A team at the University of York in the UK said its analysis of data from 113 countries and other sources is the first study to assess the international impact of smokeless tobacco on adults.
The researchers estimated that in 2010 alone, smokeless tobacco caused more than 62,000 deaths due to cancers of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus, and more than 200,000 deaths from heart disease.
India is a particular hotspot, and accounts for 74 percent of smokeless tobacco-related disease worldwide, according to the study. There is currently no international policy on how to regulate the production, composition, sale, labeling, packaging and marketing of smokeless tobacco products.
Researchers hope that past efforts to curb cigarette smoking could be used to create policies to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco.