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Smoking in India

There has been a downwards trend in current smoking prevalence in the general population in India. Smoking prevalence was 19% in 2000 and declined to 11.5% in 2015, with a further drop to 8.5% projected by 2025. For men the prevalence decreased from 32% in 2000 to 21% in 2015, with a further decrease to 16% projected by 2025. For women a much lower prevalence of 6% in 2000 dropped to just under 2% in 2015, and is projected to decrease further to less than 1% by 2025. The WHO published prevalence trend estimates in tobacco smoking, as shown here, in their 2018 2nd edition report, which show slightly different smoking prevalence to the WHO country profiles. Data for the estimates are not age standardised, and were obtained from WHO databases. The trend lines are projections, not predictions, of future attainment. A projection indicates a likely endpoint if the country maintains its tobacco control efforts at the same level that it has implemented them to date. Therefore the impact of recent interventions could alter the expected endpoint shown in the projection. While the methods of estimation used in the first and second editions of the WHO report are the same, the volume of data available for the second edition is larger i.e. 200 more national surveys. The results presented are therefore more robust.

Read articles from India

April 04, 2024 by

Our Ban Has Failed: Time for India to Regulate Vapes

The Indian states of Karnataka and Rajasthan were the first to ban vapes, motivated by political gain. Despite bans, vapes are easily accessible and the government's focus on revenue from tobacco sales impedes real health concerns. The ban lacks enforcement, pushing vapes into an unregulated market with risks to consumers, especially vulnerable groups. Advocates stress regulation over prohibition for public health and economic benefits. The prediction is that in about three years, India may legalize vapes, tapping into manufacturing potential and tax revenue. A plea is made to the government to regulate rather than ban, promoting a healthier India.

March 27, 2024 by

A Long Walk With the Tobacco Users of Mumbai

Rizwan, a former tobacco user turned vape seller in Mumbai, shares his journey of quitting tobacco after his mother's death from cancer. Despite the ban on vapes in India, Rizwan advocates for harm reduction. Exploring the city's diverse tobacco habits, he highlights the challenges faced in promoting safer alternatives. In impoverished areas like Dharavi, tobacco harm reduction is a luxury due to limited access to basic needs. Rizwan's advocacy stems from personal experiences and witnessing the devastating effects of tobacco. Despite obstacles, he seeks to raise awareness and provide alternatives in a tobacco-dependent society shaped by government restrictions.

March 19, 2024 by

Why India’s Future “Will Not Be Vape-Free”

Vapes have taken JK on a remarkable journey. From smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day, he switched suddenly and entirely. He helped pioneer India’s first organized vapers group. In reaction to the country’s prohibitionist stance, he became a licensed online vendor, then an e-liquid connoisseur. And amid the country’s ban on sales and possession of vapes, he continues to preach their harm reduction efficacy with evangelical zeal.

February 29, 2024 by

India Bans E-Cigarettes: Mothers Against Vaping Applauds, Urges Global Action

India's PECA 2019 legislation bans e-cigarettes comprehensively, addressing addiction and health risks, setting a standard for global action. 'Mothers Against Vaping' supports the ban, emphasizing public health and demand reduction. The law aims to eliminate e-cigarettes from the supply chain to protect citizens. While some advocate for vaping in smoking cessation, the group highlights risks to youth and calls for a balanced approach. India's ban exemplifies prioritizing public health over immediate gains, offering a model for other nations.

February 22, 2024 by

Karnataka govt passes Bill to set age limit for sale of cigarettes to 21

The Karnataka government recently passed the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Bill, 2024, increasing the age limit for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21 years. The bill also prohibits the sale of cigarettes to those under 21 and restricts sales near schools. Health Minister Dinesh Gundurao emphasized the new regulations, mentioning fines for violations. Furthermore, hookah bars were banned in all establishments, with penalties of imprisonment and substantial fines for unauthorized operations.

January 19, 2024 by


A vaping literacy problem may lie at the heart of India's hardline approach to vaping. Could improved tobacco harm reduction education amongst medical professionals and policy makers help shift India away from the WHO's prohibitionist anti-vaping stance? Samrat Chowdhery joins us to discuss this and more!

January 05, 2024 by

India Doubles Down on Vape Ban With Research and Media Censorship

Over five million Indians have died of smoking-related causes since their government banned the sale of vapes and heated tobacco products in late 2019. Instead of being swayed into offering low-risk, effective alternatives to millions of people who smoke, the government has intensified its war on them. Cheered on by the World Health Organization and allied groups, India’s government has now obstructed research on tobacco harm reduction (THR) products and gagged the media from discussing adoption of THR strategies.

December 05, 2023 by

E-cigarettes : New addiction of choice for youth

PESHAWAR: Vaping is the new cool, regardless of how injurious it might be to health, and teenagers and adults alike, in Peshawar, are hooked to the flavoured nicotine electronic devices. Traditionally referred to as e-cigarettes but now known by various names such as disposables, vapes, and tank systems, electronic nicotine delivery system have become a common sight in Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s capital; so much so that nearly every major shopping centre in the city has a dedicated vape store - much to the dismay of concerned parents.

November 15, 2023 by

Teachers against vaping: E-cigarettes to impact the educational environment and impede cognitive development of students

NEW DELHI: Teachers from leading schools across India on Children’s Day wrote to the ministry of education to raise awareness about the adverse effects of electronic cigarettes in all forms and educate teachers, parents and children about the recent clarifications in law which ban manufacture, sale and even possession of these devices. The teachers expressed their concern over tobacco companies disseminating misleading information that portrays new-age e-cigarettes as either harmless or less harmful in comparison to smoking traditional cigarettes.

October 17, 2023 by

Can a low-nicotine tobacco plant benefit smokers?

For smokers trying to quit but with little success, news that genetic science may have come up with a tobacco plant with 60-70 per cent less nicotine is nothing short of a dream come true. [...] the institute discovered a biosynthetic pathway for nicotine in the root of the tobacco plant, which is what synthesises nicotine and transports it to the leaves used in cigarettes. By regulating this pathway or completely blocking it, the amount of nicotine being transported to the leaves can be altered.