INTRODUCTION: Smokeless tobacco (ST) is a significant South Asian public health problem. This paper reports a qualitative study of a sample of South Asian ST users.
METHODS: Interviews, using a piloted topic guide, with 33 consenting, urban dwelling adult ST users explored their ST initiation, continued use and cessation attempts. Framework data analysis was used to analyse country specific data before a thematic cross-country synthesis was completed.
RESULTS: Participants reported long term ST use and high dependency. All reported strong cessation motivation and multiple failed attempts because of ease of purchasing ST, tobacco dependency and lack of institutional support.
CONCLUSIONS: Interventions to support cessation attempts amongst consumers of South Asian ST products should address the multiple challenges of developing an integrated ST policy, including cessation services.
IMPLICATIONS: This study provides detailed understanding of the barriers and drivers to ST initiation, use and cessation for users in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It is the first study to directly compare these three countries. The insight was then used to adapt an existing behavioural support intervention for ST cessation for testing in these countries.