Indian men smoking less but no change in women: global study

Written by anuradha mascharenhas | Pune | Updated: Jan 10 2014, 04:00am hrs
SmokingAccording to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2010, 35 per cent of Indians above the age of 15 are smoking in some form.
The proportion of Indian men smoking every day has fallen from a third to a little over a fifth over the last three decades, but the percentage of women smokers has remained largely unchanged. Given the countrys population, this means in absolute numbers India has more women smokers than in every country except the US.

According to new research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the prevalence of smoking among Indian men fell from 33.8 per cent in 1980 to 23 per cent in 2012.

Female smoking prevalence in 2012 was 3.2 per cent, virtually the same as in 1980. This worked out to over 12.1 million women in 2012; the number of male smokers, by contrast, was 98 million in that year.

The study, Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 countries, 1980-2012, will be published on January 8 in a special tobacco issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

IHME, an independent global health research organisation, arrived at its estimates covering all ages on the basis of on a wide range of data sources, including in-country surveys, government statistics, and World Health Organisation data. Previous estimates have typically focused on fewer data sources and a limited age range.

Despite the lowered prevalence among men, smoking leads to nearly a million deaths in India annually. Smoking rates remain dangerously high for men and there is more work to be done to drive these rates lower, Dr Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, said.

Speaking from Bangalore, National Cancer Registry Programme director Dr A Nandakumar said the number of women smokers was troubling, and that the new research corroborated the findings of the programmes report on Time Trends in Cancer Incidence Rates, 1982-2010, released recently.

Annually there is an increase in the incidence of lung cancer among women. For instance, the annual percentage change in the incidence rates of lung cancer is 0.8 per cent in Mumbai, 2.4 per cent in Delhi, 4.1 per cent in Bangalore and 4.9 per cent in Chennai. The age group of women is 35-44 years. In some cities, younger women have taken to smoking in a big way, Nandakumar said.

Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi of Mumbais Tata Memorial Hospital said according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2010, 35 per cent of Indians above the age of 15 consumed tobacco in some form. Twenty-one per cent chewed tobacco, 6 per cent smoked beedis, 3 per cent smoked cigarettes, and 5 per cent were dual users. Oral cancers, he said, accounted for the highest cancer mortality among men aged 30-69 in India.

IHME director Dr Christopher Murray said, Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done. According to the most recent figures from the Global Burden of Disease study, coordinated by IHME, tobacco use (not including secondhand smoke) led to nearly one million deaths, loss of 6.1 per cent of life years due to premature deaths, and 5.1 per cent of health loss in India.

How did male and female smoking prevalence for India compare to select other countries in 2012


Indonesia 57%

Russia 51%

China 45.1%

Nepal 37.4%

Bangladesh 44.4%

Pakistan 28%

Sri Lanka 23.4%

Brazil 16.5%

United States 17.2%

India 23%


Russia 16.9%

Nepal 16.9%

United States 14.3%

Brazil 11%

Pakistan 5.4%

Indonesia 3.6%

India 3.2%

China 2.1%

Bangladesh 1.8%

Sri Lanka 1%

How does Indias 23% male smoking prevalencecompare to the countries with the highest and lowest male smoking prevalence in 2012


Timor-Leste 61.1%

Indonesia 57%

Kiribati 54.4%

Armenia 51.7%

Papua New Guinea 51.4%

Laos 51.3%

Russia 51%

Cyprus 48%

Tonga 46.4%

Macedonia 46.5%


Antigua and Barbuda 5%

Sao Tome and Principe 7%

Nigeria 7.5%

Ethiopia 7.7%

Ghana 8.2%

Sudan 8.2%

Dominica 8.4%

Niger 8.8%

Suriname 9.8%

Ecuador 10.3%

In terms of number of cigarettes which countries with populations greater than 1 million had the highest and lowest average consumption per smoker per day in 2012 How doesIndias 8.2 cigarettes per daycompare


Mauritania 41

Eritrea 38

Rwanda 36

Moldova 36

Swaziland 35

Saudi Arabia 35

Oman 33

Taiwan 32

Panama 30

Yemen 30


Chad 1

Burkina Faso 1

Guinea 1

Uganda 2

Bangladesh 3

Bolivia 3

Tajikistan 3



Benin 4