India has progressed in reducing the prevalence of smoking among men, according to a new research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The reduction is attributed to education and regulation.
Smoking (cigarettes and beedis) is the third top risk for health loss in India, leading to nearly one million deaths every year. Between 1980 and 2012, smoking among Indian men decreased from 33.8 per cent to 23 per cent. India has more female smokers (in absolute numbers) — over 12.1 million — than all countries except the United States. In 2012, the prevalence of smoking among women was 3.2 per cent, which is almost unchanged since 1980.
The study “Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 Countries, 1980-2012” has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in a special issue on tobacco. It says Indians smoke 8.2 cigarettes per day on an average.
“Smoking rates remain dangerously high for men and there is more work to be done to drive these rates lower,” Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, said.
The high number of female smokers is also troubling, he added. “Among women, though prevalence is still low, the sheer numbers are high and they are vulnerable targets for the tobacco industry.”
In the Indian context, it is not just cigarettes and beedis but also oral tobacco consumption that needs to be checked by implementing a comprehensive strategy.
The Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement & Regulation of Trade & Commerce, Production, Supply & Distribution) Act, 2003, bans smoking in public, advertising and promoting tobacco and even sale of tobacco products around schools and hospitals.
Advertisement of tobacco products, including surrogate advertisement, is banned.
The sale of cigarette or tobacco products to a person under 18 is banned. There can be no sale within a radius of 100 yards of any educational institution.
Violation of the law attracts penalty, including fine and imprisonment.