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Posted at: Jun 12, 2017, 1:39 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2017, 1:39 AM (IST)

81 lakh lesser tobacco consumers since 2010

81 lakh lesser tobacco consumers since 2010

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11

India has 81 lakh lesser tobacco users today than it had in 2010 with the overall prevalence of tobacco use falling significantly by six percentage points in the past seven years. Relative reduction measured by the fall in the number of people consuming tobacco has been much higher at 17 per cent over this time.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey India 2016-17 reveals massive gains for India’s anti-tobacco efforts, revealing relative reduction in tobacco use by 33 per cent among 15 to 24 year olds and by 54 per cent among minors (15 to 17 years).

A major finding is the delay in the age of initiation into tobacco use by a year between GATS 1 (2009-10) and GATS 2 (2016-17). “There is an increase of one year in the mean age of initiation of tobacco use from 17.9 years in GATS 1 to 18.9 years in GATE 2,” says the survey conducted on the Health Ministry’s behalf by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

The study shows Indian adults are using smokeless forms more over smoking forms of tobacco.

Khaini, bidi and gutkha are the most commonly used tobacco items by Indian men while women are using betel quid with tobacco, tobacco for oral application and khaini in the order of preference.

“Smoking is largely a problem among men but smokeless forms are being used by both men and women,” Dr T. Sunder Kumar of TISS, the lead researcher, said.

In terms of numbers, 26.7 crore (28.6 per cent) adults (everyone above 15 years) are currently consuming any form of tobacco in India. More people use smokeless tobacco. “Every fifth adult (19.9 crore people) uses smokeless tobacco and every 10th adult (10 crore) smokes tobacco,” says the survey. Significantly, tobacco use remains more of a rural phenomenon with 19.9 crore adults using it as against 6.8 crore in urban areas.

Experts say the findings are consistent with the government’s anti-tobacco policies, including the recent decision to have 85 per cent of tobacco package area on both sides covered with pictorial warnings and a previous decision regarding a pan-India ban on gutkha.

The survey shows pictorial warnings are working with 55 per cent smokers and 50 per cent smokeless tobacco users admitting to have planned quitting tobacco. There is, however, no change in levels of exposure to second-hand smoke at Indian workplaces despite the survey reporting lesser exposure in homes.

Survey findings reveal gains
  • Between 2009-10 and 2016-17, the prevalence of tobacco use in India fell by 6% points
  • Prevalence down among 15 to 24 year olds from 18.4% to 12.4%. Mean year for tobacco initiation up from 17.9 to 18.9
  • Expenditure on cigarette has tripled in 7 years and on bidi and smokeless forms doubled

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