Indian men are smoking 10% less than what they used to about 30 years ago, according to a new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
However, only 14% of Indians smoke tobacco, of which merely 5.7% smoke cigarettes, say Government of India’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey. The percentage of beedi smokers in India is 9.2.
The IHME study, Smoking Prevalence and Cigarette Consumption in 187 countries, 1980-2012 was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on January 8.
It says that between 1980 and 2012, smoking prevalence among Indian men decreased from 33.8% to 23%. It also says that India has more female smokers – over 12.1 million – than any country except the United States.
In 2012, female smoking prevalence was 3.2%, which is virtually unchanged since 1980.
Tobacco use (excluding second-hand smoke) led to nearly one million deaths, 6.1% of years of life lost due to premature death, and 5.1% of health loss in the country.
It is also the third top risk for health loss, leading to nearly one million deaths each year.
“Smoking rates remain dangerously high for men and there is more work to be done to drive these rates lower,” said Dr Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), in response to the findings.
“The high number of female smokers in India is also troubling,” Dr Reddy added.
The experts believe developments in the smoking trend in India have taken place against an increasingly complex global backdrop as age-standardized tobacco use trend varies greatly by country and gender.
Places such as Mexico and Canada have seen rapid decline while others, such as Russia and China, have seen an increase since 2006. Male smokers continue to outnumber female smokers and, since 1980, the global rate of decline in female smoking prevalence was consistently faster than in men.
“Despite the tremendous progress made on tobacco control, much more remains to be done,” says Dr Christopher Murray, director, IHME.
“We have the legal means to support tobacco control, and where we see progress being made we need to look for ways to accelerate that progress. Where we see stagnation, we need to find out what’s going wrong,” he added.