Tobacco consumption in India sees a significant dip in last 10 years

National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) report brings positive news as tobacco is responsible for 50% of cancer cases in India. Report says tobacco consumption has come down drastically even in Maharashtra

Tobacco consumption in India sees a significant dip in last 10 years
In July 2012, Maharashtra became the first state to ban gutka and pan masala containing magnesium carbonate Image Source: Google
  • Tobacco consumption comes down drastically in India and Maharashtra in last 10 years
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare department’s latest figures see a significant dip in 2015-16, compared to 2005-06
  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) report brings positive news as tobacco is majorly responsible for 50% of cancer cases in India
  • Health activists demand stringent laws for anti-tobacco campaign to bring down number of tobacco related cancers in India
  • The economic burden of tobacco consumption is around Rs1,04,500 crore per annum in India

Stricter laws bring the change

“The data is encouraging and this change has happened over a period of time due to multipronged approach of stakeholders. Tobacco is the only consumer product that has no good use and is killing every third consumer. Tobacco is attributed to 50% cancers in India and majority of lung or heart diseases,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital.

Health experts say banning gutka, pan masala and smoking in public places were one of the many important policy decisions which helped in bringing down tobacco consumption.

Maharashtra first state to ban gutka, pan masala

In July 2012, Maharashtra became the first state to ban gutka and pan masala containing magnesium carbonate. This ban is renewed with new notification each year.

“It is the combined effect of several policies which were introduced by the government in favour of our anti-tobacco campaign. Many states have banned gutka, pan masala, smoking in public places. There have been several educational campaigns and taxes on tobacco have also gone up. All these factors have led to the dip in tobacco consumption rates in last 10 years,” said Dr PC Gupta, Director, Healis – Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health.

However, he said there is still lot to be done in terms of stringent implementation of existing policies.

“There are many workplaces and educational institutions which are not yet tobacco-free. We are yet to influence our young generation to encourage them to say no to tobacco,” said Gupta.

Smoking kills over million Indians annually

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India report says smoking kills over one million people in the country annually. The economic burden of tobacco consumption is around Rs1,04,500 crore per annum in India.

Health experts also emphasised on the need to have a robust tobacco cessation programme.

“Though 90% of people are aware that tobacco is harmful, they do not know how to quit it. We need a robust tobacco cessation programme in our government hospitals. Countries like South Korea and Japan have started tobacco cessation programmes to help their citizens quit tobacco,” said Dr Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Respirologist at PD Hinduja Hospital.