Background Hardcore smoking behaviours and test of hardening are seldom reported from low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs). We report country-wise changes in smoking behaviors between two sequential surveys and explored ecologically the relationship between MPOWER scores and smoking behaviors including hardcore smoking.
Methods We analysed sequential Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) data done at least at five years interval in 10 countries namely India, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam. We estimated weighted prevalence rates of smoking behaviors namely current smoking (both daily and non-daily), prevalence of hardcore smoking (HCS) among current smokers (HCSs%) and entire surveyed population (HCSp%), quit ratios (QR), and the number of cigarettes smoked per day (CPD). We calculated absolute and relative (%) change of rates between two surveys in each country. Using aggregate data, we correlated relative change in current smoking prevalence with relative change in HCSs% and HCSp% as well explored the relationship of MPOWER score with relative change in smoking behaviors using Spearman’ rank correlation test.
Results Overall daily smoking has declined in all ten countries lead by a 23% decline in Russia. In India, Bangladesh, and Philippines HCSs% decreased as the smoking rate decreased while HCSs% increase in Turkey (66%), Vietnam (33%) and Ukraine (15%). In most countries, CPD ranged from 15 - 20 sticks except in Mexico (7.8), and India (10.4) where CPD declined by 18% and 22% respectively. MPOWER scores were moderately and significantly correlated with HCSs% in both sexes (r=0.578, p=0.023) and HCSp% (r= 0.489, p=0.057) and among women both HCSs% (r=0.667, p=0.009) and HCSp% (r=0.533, p=0.037) were significantly correlated with MPOWER scores.
Conclusion With declining smoking prevalence, HCS had also decreased and quit rates improved. Ecologically, a positive linear relationship between changes in smoking and HCS is a possible evidence against ‘hardening’. Continued monitoring of the changes in quitting and hardcore smoking behaviours is required to plan cessation services.