Number of male smokers in India rose 36 percent since 1998: Study

Toronto:The number of men smoking tobacco in India rose by more than one-third to 108 million between 1998 and 2015, says an alarming study by an Indian-origin researcher.

The study did not find substantial increase in young women smoking.

The number of men smoking any type of tobacco at ages 15-69 years rose by about 29 million, or 36 percent, from 79 million in 1998 to 108 million in 2015, representing an average annual increase of about 1.7 million male smokers, the findings showed.

However, the overall age adjusted smoking prevalence at ages 15-69 years declined modestly from 27 percent in 1998 to 24 percent in 2010 but total numbers rose due to population growth, the study, published in the journal BMJ Global Health, said.

In 2010 smoking caused about one million deaths or 10 per cent of all deaths in India, with about 70 percent of those deaths occurring between the ages of 30 and 69, what should be the prime of their lives, said study author Prabhat Jha, professor at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada.

China is the only country in the world with more smokers than India.

The findings are based on study of smoking trends in India between 1998-2010. Using three nationally representative surveys covering 14 million residents, the study made forward projections to 2015.

The study also found that cigarettes were replacing the traditional bidi, a small, inexpensive Indian cigarette, possibly due to substantially higher income in India and population growth.

The number of smokers rose about 68 per cent from 19 to 31 million in urban India and about 26 per cent from 61 to 77 million in rural India, the findings showed.

At the ages 15-69 years, there were about 11 million women who smoked – about one-tenth of the total of male smokers.

The smoking prevalence in women born after 1960 was about half of the prevalence in women born before 1950, suggesting that there is no increase in young women smoking, according to the study.