Relatively few tobacco users in the southern States

Navneeta Nandan & Vignesh Radhakrishnan

The share of smokers is declining in India, but smokeless tobacco consumption continues unabated

 Relatively few tobacco users in the southern States

You're reading this article from

Tuesday, 28th February 2023
Page No. 9
Delhi Print Edition

In the north-eastern States of India, consumption of tobacco among men — in both smokable and chewable forms — was higher than the rest of India in 2019-21. If only the smokable forms were considered, the share was higher in the northern States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, J&K U.T. and the eastern State of West Bengal. If only the chewable forms were considered, the share was higher in the east — Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha — and in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

In the southern States, the share was relatively low with regard to both forms of tobacco consumption. However, among those who smoked, the share of those who consumed more than five sticks a day was much higher in many southern States. So, while smokers were fewer in the south, those who smoked did so heavily.

Map 1 shows the percentage of all men aged 15-49 who smoked cigarettes and/or bidis and/or cigars and/or pipe and/or hookah in 2019-21. The share should be read with caution as those who smoked cigarettes could also be bidi smokers, which means they were counted twice. The share was much higher among some northern and all north-eastern States except Assam. While the share of smokers was low in the south, it was even lower in the western States of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

If only cigarette smokers were considered, Mizoram (62.4% smoke cigarettes), Meghalaya (49.6%), Manipur (36.2%) and Arunachal Pradesh (31.7%) were the top four. In West Bengal, 24.3% smoked bidis, the highest share in India. In Haryana 9.9% smoked hookah, the highest share by a high margin.

Map 2 shows the percentage of all men aged 15-49 who chewed gutka with tobacco and/or paan masala with tobacco and/or paan with tobacco and/or khaini and/or other forms of tobacco in 2019-21. The share was much higher in the north-eastern, eastern, and some central, western and northern States. All the southern States and some northern States have a relatively low share.

The usage of khaini was over 35% in Bihar and Jharkhand. These two States led by a wide margin. In Gujarat, over 33% men chewed gutka/paan masala with tobacco, the second highest share, followed by Odisha (31%), M.P. (29.6%) and U.P. (27.6%).

Map 3 shows the share of male smokers who smoked more than five sticks a day in 2019-21 in India. The share in all the southern States, some northern States and some north-eastern States was higher than the rest of India.

Overall, in India, the share of cigarette/bidi smokers was coming down. Compared to 2005-06, the share of smokers came down by over 10% points in 2019-21 (Table 4). Also, the rural-urban gap became negligible by 2019-21. However, among those who chewed tobacco, there was no change among rural users whereas among urban users there was a decline, although to a smaller extent compared to the drop in smokers.

Also, among smokers, the share of those who smoked more than nine sticks a day reduced significantly and those who smoked less than five has increased (Chart 5).

According to health economist Rijo M. John, the reduction in cigarette smoking may be attributed to the increase in the prices of the commodity over time. On the other hand, the prices of bidis and other chewable forms have not increased much, and so consumption too has not reduced much. “Worryingly, after GST implementation, cigarette prices have not increased much. In future surveys, we may see an increasing trend in smoking,” he said.

Top News Today