Smoking is eight times more prevalent among Indian men than women. However, an average Indian female smoker puffs more cigarettes a day (7) than male (6.1).
Over one in five (21%) Indian male tobacco users smoke daily as against only 3% of women. Nearly half of Indian men (47.9%) aged 15 years and above consume tobacco. Nearly 206 million Indians use smokeless form of tobacco (loose-leaf chewing tobacco and snuff). Smokeless tobacco use is high among Indian men at 32.9%. One in every five female tobacco users in India uses the smokeless form as against one in 10 who smoke.
Also, an average Indian woman is taking up smoking at 17.5 years as against 18.8 years among men.
These are the new estimates of global tobacco use, published in the medical journal the Lancet on Friday.
An average Indian smoker smokes two cigarettes a day. For men, smoking of bidis was common at 16.1%.
The percentage of men who used both smoked and smokeless products was second highest in India at 9.3%
Overall, the number of tobacco users was highest in China (300.8 million), followed by India (274.9 million).
India also had the most smokeless tobacco users (205.9 million). The quit rate was low in India with less than 20% of adults who had ever smoked saying they had given up. China, Egypt, Bangladesh and Russia, too, have poor quit rates.
Quit ratios were found to be highest in the UK, the US, Brazil and Uruguay — with over 35% of smokers saying they had stopped.
Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India, said, "While tobacco use among men has dipped from 51% to 48%, it has actually doubled among women from 10% to 20%. Women and girls are the new target of tobacco companies. Increase of tobacco use among women is alarming. "
The new estimates illustrate the epidemic of tobacco use for over half of the world's population (representing more than three billion adults living in the UK, USA and 14 developing countries, including India), with around 852 million tobacco consumers.
* Author: Kounteya Sinha
* News story courtesy TNN
* Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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