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  » Smoking and health effect  »  Smoking Statistics: India
Socio-demographic characteristics
Adult (15+)542,391,000606,250,0001,071,802,000
% Urban25.526.845.2
% Rural74.573.254.8

Health Status

Life expectancy at birth, 1990-95 : 60.4 (males), 60.4 (females)
Infant mortality rate in 1990-95 : 82 per 1,000 live births

Socio-Economic Situation

GNP per capita (US$), 1991 : 330, Real GDP per capita (PPP$), 1991 : 1,150
Average distribution of labour force by sector, 1990 - 92 : Agriculture 62%; Industry 11%; Services 27%
Adult literacy rate (%), 1992 : Total 50; Male 64; Female 35

Tobacco production, trade and industry

Agriculture In 1993, 417,700 hectares were harvested for tobacco, down from 436,600 hectares in 1985. About 0.2% of all arable land is used for tobacco growing.

Production and Trade In 1992, 578,800 tonnes (7.0% of world total unmanufactured tobacco) was produced in India, making it the world's third largest tobacco-growing country. In 1992, India produced about 767,436 million manufactured cigarettes and bidis, accounting for 13.5% of the world total. About 2,100 million cigarettes were exported. Only 30 million manufactured cigarettes were imported. In 1990, India's earnings from tobacco exports totalled US$ 127.7 million, compared with US$ 122.2 million in 1985. Import costs of cigarettes rose tenfold in the same period to US$ 3.0 million.

Industry In 1993, 3.4 million people were estimated to be engaged full-time in tobacco manufacturing. This accounts for 11.7% of all manufacturing work. Almost 0.9 million people (full-time equivalent) work in growing and curing tobacco.

Tobacco consumption

Annual consumption of manufactured cigarettes declined between 1984 and 1992 from around 90 billion to about 85 billion. In 1992, 6.1% of world total unmanufactured tobacco and 1.5 % of world total manufactured cigarettes were consumed in India. Only about 20% of the total tobacco consumed in India (by weight) is in the form of cigarettes. Bidis account for about 40% of tobacco consumption (about 675,000 million bidis), with the rest divided among chewing tobacco, pan masala, snuff, hookah, hookli, chutta dhumti, and other tobacco mixtures featuring ingredients such as areca nut. Chuttas and dhumtis are also smoked in reverse fashion, with the lighted end inside the mouth. Consumption patterns of tobacco show major differences across regions.

Consumption of Manufactured Cigarettes
  Annual average per adult (15+)

Tar/Nicotine/Filters In 1990, tar levels of cigarettes ranged from 18.0 - 28.0 mg, and nicotine levels from 0.9 - 1.8 mg. Tar levels of bidis are much higher at 45-50 mg. In 1990, 51% of the cigarettes sold were filter-tipped, however, there is little difference in nicotine yields of filter and non-filter cigarettes manufactured in India.


Adequate national data on tobacco prevalence of tobacco is not currently available. However, based on estimated per capita consumption figures, it appears that bidi smoking has risen substantially during the last three decades. Cigarette smoking increased up to the 1970s, remained stationary or declined somewhat during the 1980s. Other forms of tobacco use have declined considerably over the years.

Tobacco use among population sub-groups It is estimated that 65% of all men use some form of tobacco, (about 35% smoking, 22% smokeless tobacco, 8% both). Prevalence rates for women differed widely, from 15% in Bhavnagar to 67% in Andhra Pradesh. However, overall prevalence of bidi and cigarette smoking among women is about 3%. The use of smokeless tobacco is similar among women and men. About one-third of women use at least one form of tobacco. Differences in tobacco use also vary among other groups; Sikhs do not use tobacco at all, and Parsis use very little, while tobacco use is permissible among Hindus, Moslems and Christians. Smoking rates tend to be higher in rural areas than urban areas. Smoking is a status symbol among urban educated youths, but most appear to be unaware of the hazards of smoking.

Mortality from Tobacco Use

Tobacco is responsible for a significant amount of morbidity and mortality among middle-aged adults. India has one of the highest rates of oral cancer in the world, and the rates are still increasing. Tobacco-related cancers account for about half of all cancers among men and one-fourth among women. Oral cancer accounts for one-third of the total cancer cases, with 90% of the patients being tobacco chewers. Clinical observations in some areas have revealed that over 60% of heart disease patients under 40 years of age are tobacco users; over half of the patients aged 41-60 are also smokers.

Tobacco Control Measures

Control on Tobacco Products Tobacco advertising has been banned in state-controlled electronic media, but continues without restriction in newspapers, magazines, on posters, billboards, and in the video cassettes of Indian films. A proposal for a total ban on advertising and sponsorship of all tobacco products is under consideration by the Indian Government.

Health warnings are required on cigarette packets since the "Cigarette Act" of 1975. The government has appointed a full-time coordinator of tobacco control activities. However, also in 1975 the government dropped restrictions on package size and contents for cigarettes, cigars and 22 other products, and initiated a Tobacco Development Board for promoting tobacco by offering direct subsidies and a price support system to farmers.

Taxes are levied on tobacco products, at varying rates and with varying degrees of effectiveness. Between 1987 and 1992, excise duty on many Indian cigarettes increased between 64% - 112%. Cigarette taxes represent about 75% of the retail price. Taxes are much lower on packaged chewing tobacco and are rarely collected on bidis and unpackaged tobacco products. Regulatory control and the application of retail taxes on these products is extremely difficult as there is a large sector which operates outside of official control. For example, the bidi industry is highly decentralized and many manufacturers are unlicensed. Much of bidi manufacturing is one in cottage industry. Often whole families, including women and children, are engaged in bidi production.

High taxes on manufactured cigarettes and low taxes on bidis and other tobacco products are encouraging substitution of bidis and other products for manufactured cigarettes.

Protection for non-smokers In 1990, through an executive order, the government implemented a prohibition on smoking in all health care establishments, government offices, educational institutions, air-conditioned railway cars, chaircars, buses, and domestic passenger flights.

Health education There is no organization currently working at the national level for tobacco control. Several non-governmental organisations and committed individuals at the local levels are also involved, but to date, no perceptible attitudinal changes among tobacco consumers have been found.