The Global Toll of Tobacco


Chart showing prevalence of tobacco use in India, 2005-2006)Consumption

  • There are almost 275 million tobacco users in India.
  • Over one-third of adults (age 15+) use some form of tobacco (35 percent), including almost half of men (48 percent) and 20 percent of women.
  • Among youth (age 13-15), 4 percent smoke cigarettes and almost 12 percent use other types of tobacco products.
  • Bidis, cheap hand-rolled cigarettes, are the most popular tobacco product used in India.
  • Bidis comprise 48 percent of the tobacco market, chewing tobacco 38 percent and cigarettes 14 percent.

Chart showing tobacco use among youth in India, 2006)Health Consequences

  • About 1 million Indians die from tobacco-related diseases each year in India.
  • Among youth (age 13-15), 27 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke at home and 40 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places.

Tobacco Industry

The Imperial Tobacco Company Group holds 58 percent of the total cigarette market, Philip Morris International has 12 percent, while Golden Tobacco Ltd has 11 percent of the cigarette market. In 2008, over 98 billion cigarettes were sold in India. The illicit cigarette trade is a growing problem and accounted for approximately 20 percent of total sales (legal and illegal) in 2008.

Bidi rolling in India is a cottage-based industry employing mainly women and children. Bidis outsell cigarettes by a ratio of eight to one (8:1) in India.

Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) Status

India ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 5, 2004.

Tobacco Control Policy Status

Smoke-free environments: India has a national ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public places. Hotels with more than 30 rooms, and restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of over 30 people are allowed to have designated smoking rooms. Enforcement and compliance levels vary by state and city.

Advertising, promotion and sponsorship: India bans tobacco promotion, sponsorship and most forms of advertising. Tobacco companies are still able to advertise through point-of-sale.

Warning labels: Current health warnings are graphic but images are weak and do not convey the harms of tobacco use. Warnings are required to cover 40 percent of the front side of the pack. In March 2010, the government approved a new pictorial warning label but implementation has been delayed.

Tobacco taxes: Tobacco products in India are cheap. Bidis, in particular, are under-taxed and available at very low cost. Tobacco taxes in India are below the rate recommended by the World Bank (from 65 percent to 80 percent of retail price) that is commonly present in countries with effective tobacco control policies.

Updated: February 2011


Global Adult Tobacco Survey

Tobacco Control Groups