Open Access Research article

Investigating socio-economic-demographic determinants of tobacco use in Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Ali Yawar Alam1*, Azhar Iqbal2, Khalif Bile Mohamud3, Ronald E Laporte4, Ashfaq Ahmed5 and Sania Nishtar6

Author Affiliations

1 Community Health Sciences, Shifa College of Medicine, Pitrus Bukhari Road, Sector H-8/4, Islamabad, Pakistan

2 Heartfile, 1-Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, Pakistan

3 W.H.O Pakistan, National Institute of Health, Chak Shahzad, Pakistan

4 Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, 3512 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA, 15213, USA

5 Ministry of Health, Block C, Federal Secretariat, Islamabad, Pakistan

6 Heartfile, 1-Park Road, Chak Shahzad, Islamabad, Pakistan

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:50  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-50

Published: 7 February 2008



To investigate the socio-economic and demographic determinants of tobacco use in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.


Cross sectional survey of households (population based) with 2018 respondent (1038 Rural; 980 Urban) was carried out in Rawalpindi (Pakistan) and included males and females 18–65 years of age. Main outcome measure was self reported daily tobacco use.


Overall 16.5% of the study population (33% men and 4.7% women) used tobacco on a daily basis. Modes of tobacco use included cigarette smoking (68.5%), oral tobacco(13.5%), hukka (12%) and cigarette smoking plus oral tobacco (6%). Among those not using tobacco products, 56% were exposed to Environmental tobacco smoke.

The adjusted odds ratio of tobacco use for rural residence compared to urban residence was 1.49 (95% CI 1.1 2.0, p value 0.01) and being male as compared to female 12.6 (8.8 18.0, p value 0.001). Illiteracy was significantly associated with tobacco use. Population attributable percentage of tobacco use increases steadily as the gap between no formal Education and level of education widens.


There was a positive association between tobacco use and rural area of residence, male gender and low education levels. Low education could be a proxy for low awareness and consumer information on tobacco products. As Public health practitioners we should inform the general public especially the illiterate about the adverse health consequences of tobacco use. Counter advertisement for tobacco use, through mass media particularly radio and television, emphasizing the harmful effects of tobacco on human health is very much needed.