Tobacco Industry in India - Statistics & Facts

Smoking is mentioned in the Atharvaveda of the Vedic texts where dhupas and homas (smoke and fire offerings) have been common practice for around 2,000 years and continue even today across households in the country, the latter for pest control and the former as part of prayer. The traditional practices of smoking or inhaling smoke (dhumapana) prescribed in Ayurveda involved pastes made from substances including ghee, fish offal, dried snakeskin among others concocted with a variety of herbs and plants, molded to incense sticks. These were used as remedies for ailments and for general good health which was separate from cannabis smoking. Before modern cigarettes came along, pipes and chillums were used.

Since the introduction of modern tobacco in India around the 17th century, cigarettes have a far lower proportion of tobacco as compared to the Indian zarda/gutka (chewing tobacco) or bidi – a herbal, hand rolled cigarette with cloves and betel nut along with tobacco.

The Indian OTC drugs and tobacco products market was estimated to be valued at almost 11 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. Tobacco is mainly produced in the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, making the South Asian country one of the leaders for revenue in the tobacco market worldwide.

Indians in the north-eastern state of Mizoram consume the highest share of tobacco, while the south-western state of Maharashtra consumes the lowest, making the national average close to eleven percent. There is a significantly higher percentage of smokers among males than females in the country, a factor that reflects gender restrictions in the society.

A series of legal precautions and warnings came into effect at the turn of the millennium. It started with banning advertising of tobacco and alcohol use, followed by making pictorial warnings on products mandatory. A Supreme Court judgment in 2001 banned smoking in public spaces in the country and this was followed by a series of governmental anti-tobacco advertisements “Sponge” and “Mukesh” in 2012 shown before film screenings and on television, now replaced by “Child” and “Dhuan” since 2013.

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Tobacco industry in India - Important statistics

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